New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton is still trying to come to terms with the death of former team captain Will Smith, who was shot Saturday night in an altercation following a traffic accident. But he has plenty to say on the issue of gun control.
“I hate guns,” he told USA Today. “I’ve heard people argue that everybody needs a gun. That’s madness. I know there are many kids who grew up in a hunting environment. I get that. But there are places, like England, where even the cops don’t have guns.
“If this opinion in Louisiana is super unpopular,” Peyton continued, “so be it.”
Smith played nine seasons with the Saints, and was set to join the coaching staff as an intern in the upcoming season. He was shot and killed on Saturday night in New Orleans after police said he was involved in a traffic accident with a 28-year-old man named Cardell Hayes, who allegedly shot Smith “multiple times.” Smith’s wife was also shot in the leg during the incident. Hayes, a former football star at Warren Easton High School in New Orleans, was charged with second-degree murder and is being held on a $1 million bond.
In his first interview since Smith’s death, an emotional Payton said that guns and an overhauled police department are responsible for turning New Orleans into “the Wild, Wild West,” and argued that stricter gun-control laws would help stem the tide of violence. For starters, he says Hayes, who reportedly pleaded guilty to possessing an illegal weapon in 2014, shouldn’t have been able to get his hands on the gun that killed Smith.
“It was a large caliber gun. A .45 – 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,” Payton said. “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.
“Two hundred years from now, they’re going to look back and say, ‘What was that madness about?'” he continued. “The idea that we need them to fend off intruders…that’s some silly stuff we’re hanging onto.”