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Ja Morant, 2A rights, and responsibilities

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The Memphis Grizzlies have suspended guard Ja Morant after the star was seen flashing a gun on a social media post over the weekend, just a couple of months after Morant was suspended by the NBA without pay for eight games after brandishing a pistol in a Colorado nightclub; an incident also caught on camera.

At the time, the league said an investigation “did not conclude that the gun at issue belonged to Morant, was brought by him into the nightclub or was displayed by him beyond a brief period. The investigation also did not find that Morant possessed the gun while traveling with the team or in any NBA facility.”

Glendale police did not press charges against Morant.

Morant met with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after the Denver incident. The 23-year-old told ESPN they had an “open discussion.”

Morant’s conduct “was irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous,” Silver said in a statement. “It also has serious consequences given his enormous following and influence, particularly among young fans who look up to him.”

After Morant’s most recent suspension, Fox News commentator Will Cain weighed in wondering why Morant has been suspended for doing something that’s legal.. even if not the smartest way to transport a firearm in a vehicle.

The short answer is that Morant doesn’t appear to have broken the law in the video clip, though it’s unclear where exactly the video was taken so it’s hard to know if any local or state statutes might have been violated. But yes, Morant has the same Second Amendment rights as you or I (maybe even more so, given our country’s history with celebrities and the criminal justice system). That doesn’t mean, however, that Morant’s employer (or the NBA itself) can’t take action if his conduct violates team rules or policies.

While the NBA has become increasingly and vocally supportive of gun control efforts, I doubt that Morant would have been suspended if he had posted a video clip with him shooting at a gun range or speaking about the importance of armed self-defense (though if he was on the Golden State Warriors I wouldn’t have been shocked if head coach and ardent anti-gun activist Steve Kerr disciplined him). I think this is less of a pure “gun” issue and more of a “don’t be a dumb*** with a gun on camera” situation.

If it had been Will Cain waving around a gun in a car while his buddy drove down the road, I imagine Fox News executives might have a thing or two to say to him, regardless of whether his actions were legal. And as Outkick’s Clay Travis noted, this isn’t the first time that Morant’s employers have had to address incidents involving him and a gun; including an incident last year where a teenager says Morant repeatedly punched him and flashed a gun after a pick-up basketball game at Morant’s home.

Both Cain and Travis ended up agreeing that employers are taking an increasingly heavy hand in policing what their employees do on their own time, but Travis went on to say that he believes the Grizzlies and the NBA are “trying to protect Ja from his own choices,” something that “usually doesn’t end well for the player — or the kid if you’re a parent — eventually if the light bulb doesn’t come on the consequences end up being severe.”

That sounds about right to me. If the Grizzlies or the NBA at large had a policy banning gun ownership for players or disciplining them merely for exercising their Second Amendment rights that would clearly be over the line. If they had gone after Morant for appearing at a Friends of NRA dinner or for speaking out against the “red flag” law proposed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee then Cain’s argument would be a lot stronger. But when you’re pulling down almost $40-million per year as one of the faces of the local NBA franchise, you shouldn’t be surprised or shocked when your repeated shenanigans (gun-related or not) lead to disciplinary action by the team or league. Ja Morant has every right to keep and bear arms… at least for now. If he keeps up with these irresponsible acts on camera, however, a short suspension and the loss of pay could be the least of his problems.


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