METAIRIE - Saints head coach Sean Payton’s stance on guns and gun control is no secret. The coach went off on a rant after his former player Will Smith was shot and killed last year, so it’s no surprise that he had some choice opinions after the massacre in Las Vegas that left dozens dead and hundreds wounded.
Shortly after Smith was shot in April 2016, Payton told USA Today: “I hate guns.”
Payton began his day Tuesday on Twitter by re-Tweeting a New York Times Tweet that showed that the number of people killed in the United States by firearms since 1968 (1,516,863) is sizably more than the number of Americans killed on battlefields in all wars in history (1,396,733).
The Tweet set the stage for Payton to be questioned about guns during what is likely his only press briefing this week as the Saints have a bye week following a win in London against Miami on Sunday.
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Payton said he learned about the incident when the team landed. He rarely speaks out so strongly about non-sports issues, but he doesn’t mince words about his dislike for the easy accessibility of guns in the U.S.
“The current protocol is not working. The current system is not working. The madness is when you go years and years and years and say, well… the current policies and thoughts are flawed. I believe this in my heart, we as a society owe it to our children… we have to be better that way.”
“…Here we are, as educated and smart and forward-thinking as we think we are, and yet it’s broken, and it’s obvious.”
Payton's feelings are not necessarily shared by everyone, including Gavin Chachere, a firearms instructor at The Shooters Club in Harahan. "There's no way to prevent what happened on Sunday night, absolutely no way," he emphasized. "That's the individual, not any kind of law or firearm."
Payton was asked about his decision to share the New York Times’ Tweet Tuesday and he quickly jumped in. “There was no decision. It’s just common sense. We can quietly sit and, it’s frustrating. Sometimes you see things from afar and think it’s madness.”
Payton said his outspokenness on the Vegas shooting is no different than his speaking out after Will Smith’s fatal shooting.
“If it pisses people off, that’s tough.”
Chachere, doesn't agree. "I don't think this has anything to do with illegal guns," he said. "I think the problem here was the individual. Something was very, very wrong with him. That's the root cause."