Likewise, the players found the instruction indispensable. Solder said, “I had…basic safety questions answered as well as many new safety and legal issues illuminated that I had never thought of before, all which I believe make me a safer, more well-informed citizen and potential gun owner.” Several players also endorsed the Academy to anyone looking for firearm instruction. “I would definitely recommend the class to anyone who owns [a handgun] or [a] future owner of a handgun,” Ninkovich said. “The instructor was very informative about everything a person needs to know when handling a gun safely.” Nolan added, “The SIG Sauer Academy really had a huge impact on me. I really gained a lot of valuable information.” McDonald added, “Many people own a gun and don’t properly know how and when to use a firearm. [The SIG Sauer Academy] will provide a foundation for those with no experience with firearms.”
According to Christine, plans are in place to hold the NFLPA class on at least an annual basis at SIG Sauer Academy, with an additional class scheduled at a West Coast location to better serve NFLPA members who might have difficulty traveling to New Hampshire.
In contrast to the NFLPA’s proactive efforts to help its members learn firearm safety and proficiency, the League has a candid—if not misguided—policy regarding firearms. NFL Senior Vice President of Communications Greg Aiello provided Shooting Illustrated with the League’s official policy on guns. “Whether possessed legally or illegally, guns and other weapons of any kind are dangerous,” the policy begins. “You and your family can easily be the losers if you carry or keep these items in your home.” It goes on to list the various prohibitions put in place by the League, summarizing with the admonition: “…recognize that you must not possess a gun or other weapon at any time you are performing any service for your team or the NFL.”
While the League recognizes some situations where players may have access to firearms and does not actively discourage players from participating in legal shooting activities, it puts heavy weight on alleged negatives of firearm ownership: “Any weapon, particularly a firearm, is dangerous—especially when it is in a vehicle or within reach of children, or around others who are not properly trained in its use.”
Christine responded to the League’s policy with a simple statement: “The NFLPA recognizes the Second Amendment rights of our members.” He added that, “The NFLPA feels we have an obligation to ensure our members benefit from having access to [expert] training and information offered by the SIG Sauer Academy.”