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March 01, 2018

Eagles' Chris Long wades into gun debate, arming school teachers

In the aftermath of last month's deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the national debate about preventing gun violence and advancing legislative reform has resurfaced with an intensity not seen in the United States in several years.

Student protests across the country, urging responsible solutions to improve school security, have generally identified ease of access to deadly weapons as the primary cause of mass shootings that have devastated American communities time and again.

The alternative suggestion to arm and train teachers — an idea critics say fails to address scenarios like the shootings in Las Vegas and Orlando — has taken a particularly contentious tone over the past week.

Supported by President Donald Trump, a proposal from Florida legislators came under fire Wednesday after a social studies teacher in Georgia allegedly barricaded himself inside his classroom, fired his handgun and prompted a schoolwide lockdown.

Opponents of the policy argue forcefully that arming teachers not only runs counter to the Second Amendment's anti-authoritarian moral, but places students at much higher risk of accidents, conflict escalation and racially-motivated violence and intimidation, as has been documented in incidents involving armed school resource officers.

Among those against the proposal is Philadelphia Eagles' defensive end Chris Long, an outspoken athlete who has embraced a number of charitable causes over the course of his career, including educational opportunity in low-income communities and sustainable water projects in East Africa.

Long took to Twitter on Wednesday to share his thoughts about the gun debate and the proposal to arm teachers, responding to several fans who questioned his thinking along the way. His position appears to be that it would be wiser, in the absence of more extensive gun reform, to better arm police than to put guns in the hands of teachers. 

As Long joked in one of his tweets, he may just be "a delusional hippie." At least he's self-aware. Those who question his use of celebrity and a broad reach on Twitter to exert influence should keep in mind that he clearly feels a sense of responsibility as a public figure. 

As we've learned here in Philly, Long is not a "shut up and dribble" kind of professional athlete. There are plenty of athletes who will stay away from politics. Those who do invite intelligent debate should be given credit for stimulating discussions that motivate others to research and learn about their world.