When I think about the politics of those who compete in shooting sports, I invariably think of how most are avid supporters of the Second Amendment. I don’t remember the last time a big name in the shooting sports world stepped up and advocated for gun control.
On Tuesday night, after he finished competing, American biathlete Lowell Bailey spoke out about the gun he uses to compete — and the type of gun that was used to kill 17 people in Parkland.
“We’re a sport that uses a .22-caliber rifle,” Bailey said, according to Yahoo Sports. “A .22-caliber rifle that shoots a single round is a much different thing than an AR-15. In my opinion, there’s just no reason for assault rifles to be in the hands of ordinary citizens.”
The Florida shooter used a semi-automatic rifle similar to an AR-15.
“I support an assault weapons ban,” Bailey said, according to The Washington Post. “I really do. Our country needs to wake up. Our country needs to change. There’s just no excuse. I compete against all of these other World Cup nations — Germany, Norway. How good are they on the range? They’re great at rifle marksmanship. Do you know how strict their gun control laws are? It’s a travesty America hasn’t changed and continues to go down this path. It just makes me want to cry.”
His teammate Susan Dunklee has previously described the tension between needing to use a gun for biathlon and hating gun violence.
“Watching the news after the Las Vegas shooting, I just had this disgust about anything gun-related,” Dunklee told NPR’s Melissa Block. “It really took away the joy that I enjoy doing my sport, just thinking about that and the whole gun culture. Most of the time, I kind of forget that my sport is a gun sport. It’s just biathlon: To me it’s something totally different.”
That’s okay. For most gun advocates, they aren’t really involved in a shooting sport, so we agree it’s totally different.
Of course, Bailey and Dunklee’s comments are going to be taken and amplified as if they are somehow part of the firearms community, as if our own are advocating for an assault weapons ban.
It ain’t happening.
Instead, what we have here are a couple of people who take part in a fairly obscure sport, who pop a round or two during the event, but have shown no real understanding of the issue.
Not to mention, these athletes are currently staying in an Olympic village protected by armed guards that will help shield them from any and all harm. Unfortunately, that’s something most people don’t get to enjoy. That’s why we have so-called assault rifles. We can’t afford to outsource our protection, so we do it ourselves.
While these two will leave the Olympic village shortly and find themselves back in the real world, they need to understand that nothing they’ve uttered seems to be premised on anything other than emotion. As a result, I find myself not really caring about their opinions, except for potential mockery.