ATLANTA, GA — Chipper Jones, the Hall of Fame-bound Atlanta Braves legend who is an avid hunter and outdoorsman, says civilians have no need for military-style weapons like the one used in this month’s Florida school shooting.
In a Sunday column by Atlanta Journal-Constitution sports writer Jeff Schultz, Jones – who was overwhelmingly voted into Cooperstown last month — said he believes strongly in the constitutional right to bear arms, but that “I do not believe there is any need for civilians to own assault rifles. I just don’t.”
“I would like to see something (new legislation) happen,” Jones said in the column. “I liken it to drugs – you’re not going to get rid of all the guns. But AR-15s and AK-47s and all this kind of stuff – they belong in the hands of soldiers. Those belong in the hands of people who know how to operate them, and whose lives depend on them operating them. Not with civilians.
“I have no problem with hunting rifles and shotguns and pistols and what-not. But I’m totally against civilians having those kinds of automatic and semi-automatic weapons.”
A native of DeLand, Fla., Jones was taught by his father to hunt and shoot as a young boy. He was co-owner of the Outdoor Channel’s hunting show, “Buck Commander,” on which he regularly appeared, and co-owns and hosts “Major League Bowhunter” on the Sportsman Channel.
Renewed attention has been focused on the legality of rifles like the AR-15, which has been used in multiple mass shootings in the United States, including the Valentine’s day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people were killed and another 16 injured.
In the AJC column, Jones also said he favors raising the minimum age to buy a firearm from 18 to 21 and called President Donald Trump’s proposal to arm classroom teachers “a big mistake.”
“If you want to up school security with people who’ve been through police training and know what it’s like to draw your weapon when your life is threatened, know when to pull the trigger and when not to, that’s one thing,” he said. “But I would venture to say that if you polled all of the teachers in America, it would be way over 90 percent who would say no.”
Jones also said parents and others need to do more to teach responsibility and that “mental health is also a big issue.”
“What is going on here in Florida with the protests and people really stepping up to try to make things happen is a good thing,” he said. “It’s always good for there to be open discussion. Hopefully if we can keep those high-powered automatic weapons out of civilians’ hands, the Las Vegases and the Columbines and what happened here in Florida will start to dwindle.”
Jones, who retired in 2013 after spending his entire career with the Braves, was this year’s top Hall of Fame vote-getter with 97.2 percent of the votes cast, tying him for the 10th-highest vote total ever. At least 75 percent is required to be inducted into the Hall.
After being the first overall pick in the 1990 Major League draft, Jones went on to become an 8-time All Star, win the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1999 and earn the Major League batting title in 2008 with a .364 average.
He will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, N.Y., in July.
To read the entire AJC column by Jeff Schultz, click here.
Former Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones listens to a question during a news conference after it was announced he had been elected to the baseball Hall of Fame, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)