New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton made no bones about his hatred of guns following the shooting death of his former player, Will Smith, who was killed following a suspected road-rage incident Saturday evening in the city’s Lower Garden District.
“I hate guns,” he told USA Today Sports in a phone interview. “I find myself leaning to the right on some issues. But on this issue, I can’t wrap my brain around it.”
Payton, who won the Super Bowl in 2010, seemed to not care if his comments on one’s Constitutional right to keep and bear arms offends football fans or Louisiana gun owners.
“So be it,” he said, when asked if those comments might make him unpopular amongst Bayou State residents.
“I’ve heard people argue that everybody needs a gun,” he said. “That’s madness. I know there are many kids who grow up in a” hunting environment. I get that. But there are places, like England, where even the cops don’t have guns.”
The man who shot Smith was identified as 28-year-old Cardell Hayes, who was arrested and charged with 2nd-degree murder following the shooting.
However, Hayes’ attorney said that his client was not the aggressor in the altercation, noting that Hayes called 911 before discharging his weapon, secured a witness at the scene and waited until authorities arrived (instead of fleeing).
“Tell me if that’s the behavior that’s consistent with someone who’s an animal out here looking for blood,” Hayes’ attorney John Fuller told WDSU. “His actions are totally consistent with someone that is complying with a police investigation.”
Smith’s wife, who was in the vehicle at the time of the shooting, was also wounded. Though, it doesn’t appear that she was targeted.
Meanwhile, coach Payton was strident in his opposition to not only firearms, but .45 caliber handguns.
“It was a large caliber gun. A .45,” said Payton. “It was designed back during World War I. And this thing just stops people. It will kill someone within four or five seconds after they are struck. You bleed out. After the first shot, he took three more in his back. … We could go online and get 10 of them and have them shipped to our house tomorrow.”
“I don’t believe that was the intention when they allowed for the right for citizens to bear arms,” continued Payton.
There are two sides to every story. The question the justice system must answer now is whether Hayes’ use of deadly force was reasonable given the circumstances. As we’ve seen in the past with other high-profile shootings, it takes a bit of time before all of the facts of the case come to light. Even then, there still may be some ambiguity as to what exactly transpired — so one should avoid making snap judgments. By the looks of things, Mr. Hayes’ fate will ultimately be decided by a jury of his peers.