Gun-rights groups criticized the San Francisco 49ers this week for donating half-a-million dollars to a new gun-control effort.
In the lead up to the winless team's defeat at the hands of the best team in the National Football League, the 7-1 Philadelphia Eagles, the 49ers announced they would be making the donation to an effort to ban bump fire stocks, silencers, and "armor piercing bullets." The 49ers said they would be partnering with a number of police unions representing officers from cities like Oakland, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, New York City, and Portland in the new gun-control effort. The money donated by the 49ers will go towards an outreach campaign that will include public-service announcements.
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"It seems insane to me that a citizen can buy something like that," 49ers CEO Jed York told the Mercury News of bump fire stocks. "I'm not anti-Second Amendment. This is something that is common sense."
As the Eagles MVP-caliber quarterback, Carson Wentz, led the team filled with potential Pro-Bowlers to a resounding 33-10 win over the 49ers last weekend, gun-rights groups led the opposition to the 49ers' gun-control activism. The National Rifle Association (NRA) accused the team of attacking Americans' Second Amendment rights.
"Why kneel in disrespect to the flag when you can stand and trample the Constitution?" the NRA wrote on its Institute for Legislative Action website. "That appears to be the thinking, at least, of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers football team."
The NRA said the move would likely further upset many NFL fans who are already angry about kneeling protests during the national anthem and pointed at the failure of the movie Miss Sloane as proof that mixing gun control and politics can hurt business.
"Such anti-gun advocacy will almost certainly stir the ire of an already frustrated fan base who, as ratings indicate, want to keep politics out of sports," the NRA said in its post. "Perhaps the feeling is that because San Francisco has long been among the nation's leading bastions of anti-gun fervor, this move would be seen as positive by a weakening fan base. But, we remind NFL leadership of the dangerous trap-door that all too many have failed to see. Put simply, ticket-paying fans have no interest in further incorporating divisive political issues into packaged entertainment, and this includes football and other sporting events."
California-based gun-rights group Firearms Policy Coalition said "$500,000 is a lot of money that will go a long way in promoting their cause" and encouraged their membership to donate $49 to fight against the team's efforts.
"If the 49ers, who haven't won a single game in the NFL this season, are any indication, attacking the Second Amendment should be a losing issue," Richard Thomson, a spokesman for the group, said in a message to supporters. "But as we've seen, time and time again, the anti-gunners are only more emboldened with every passing day."
Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, said the 49ers may be putting efforts to reform silencer regulations in jeopardy.
"The Hearing Protection Act might have a chance in Congress but for the Niners to give that kind of money to the opposition amounts to pass interference, and it should cost them more than 15 yards," he said. "Halfway into the season San Francisco hasn’t put a single victory on the scoreboard. Now they’ve essentially insulted millions of NFL fans by helping bankroll the gun control effort."
Gottlieb said the NFL is injecting too much politics into the game: "Professional football is supposed to be a sporting event that entertains and thrills fans, not help finance efforts to erode their constitutional rights. Politics is threatening to ruin the games."