Olympic Runner And Boise Native Nick Symmonds Advocates For Handgun, Assault Rifle Ban

Nov 5, 2013

Symmonds, pictured crossing the finish line, ran for the University of Oregon.
Credit Phil Roeder / Flickr Creative Commons

Boise native Nick Symmonds took fifth place in the men's 800 meter run at the London Olympics last year. Now, he's advocating for strict rules on who can own handguns and assault-style rifles in the U.S.

This isn't the first time Symmonds has gotten political. In August, Symmonds criticized Russia's anti-gay legislation by dedicating a medal he'd won in that country to his gay friends back home.

Now, Symmonds is calling for federal legislation that would ban handguns and assault rifles for anyone other than police officers or military personnel.

In a column Symmonds wrote for Runner's World, he writes, "These weapons are made to kill humans and should be strictly limited."

Symmonds was scheduled to fly out of the Los Angeles airport last Friday just hours after a shooter opened fire in a terminal killing one TSA officer.

"Why do we allow ourselves to live in this kind of environment?," Symmonds wrote. "Are we seriously going to let a small, radical contingent of our population keep us living as if in the Wild West? I would gladly hand in all of my weapons if I knew that doing so would prevent any more gun-related murders in this country."

Symmonds explains he grew up in Boise learning to hunt and he says he owns several guns. Still, Symmonds writes the politics of gun control affects everyone, runners included.

"As runners, we cover a lot of territory. Our runs take us from "safe" neighborhoods to more "dangerous" parts of town and everything in between. We pound the pavement, hearts pumping, lungs aching, unarmed with only a millimeter of dry-fit shirt to protect us. To some, we look like good targets, as was the case of Christopher Lane in Oklahoma. While out for a jog in August, Christopher was shot to death by several "bored" teenagers – likely by a handgun.

Christopher was one of us, and we owe it to him and others to make sure his death wasn't in vain."

You can read his full column here.

Correction: We erroneously posted that Symmonds took eighth place in his event at the London Olympics. Symmonds took fifth place.

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