For Football Fans, Safety Is No Game

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posted on December 16, 2015
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“Why do you need to bring a gun to a football game, anyway?” 

That’s the type of response we’re used to hearing from anti-gun activists and clueless people in general—as if certain locations had magical barriers to keep the bad people out. “Why do you need a gun in a zoo—or a church?” 

The sad truth, however, is that major sporting events are obvious targets for acts of mass murder. We now know that the terrorists who killed so many in the Bataclan music hall and in several Paris restaurants would likely have done the same in the Stade de France venue, had security not stopped a man who was trying to enter the stadium wearing an explosive vest. This goes beyond the general principle that you never know when and where you will need to defend yourself—when you attend a sporting event, you actually become more of a target for the worst kind of bad guys out there.

All of this makes it inexcusable that the National Football League is dead set not just on disarming ordinary fans, but on stubbornly applying their ban on guns inside stadiums to off-duty law enforcement officers. These first responders have the necessary training to act appropriately in an active shooter situation, but the NFL is determined not to give an inch. Some have applauded the league’s intransigence as “principled”—but whether or not NFL officials mean well, their policy is profoundly misguided. This goes beyond the general principle that you never know when and where you will need to defend yourself—when you attend a sporting event, you actually become more of a target for the worst kind of bad guys out there.

It is worth remembering that the man who single-handedly stopped a domestic terrorist attack on an art exhibition in Garland, Texas, (“Why would you need a gun near an art show?”) was a traffic cop finishing an off-duty security shift. In a crisis situation, one individual with the proper training can make all the difference. The NFL claims that its football games are already sufficiently guarded by armed security—but leaving more guns in the hands of highly competent first responders can do nothing but help. 

We bring up terrorism because it is arguably the most visible threat currently facing our country. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the only reason the NFL’s gun ban is a terrible idea. The knowledge that football fans are disarmed before being allowed into games has turned the areas outside some stadiums into prime hunting grounds for criminals. In St. Louis, a fan was shot and paralyzed by robbers after a game. This tragedy, coupled with an apparent increase in thieves breaking in to vehicles to search for unattended firearms, has left residents angry and desperate for a solution—even an imperfect one, such as a so-called “gun check truck” immediately outside the stadium. 

Stalwart opposition to the NFL’s unreasonable gun policy has come not just from NRA and other gun-rights groups, but also from the Fraternal Order of Police. This national police union spoke out against the gun ban when it was implemented in 2013. Last month the group once again urged the NFL to reconsider the rule, pointing to the attacks in Paris as an example of the need for more armed citizens. The Ohio chapter of FOP has written letters to the owners of the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns. The Detroit Police Officers Association and the leader of the NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association have also called for the NFL to drop its policy. 

It’s scary to realize that what we are primarily discussing here is whether to exempt off-duty law enforcement from the NFL’s blanket gun ban—a measure so sensible that it is included in many draconian gun-control policies. We are proud to be part of the fight to restore the Second Amendment rights of our first responders—and to keep football fans across the country safe. But our fight will not be over until those rights are protected for all law-abiding citizens.

Use Your Power!

Tell NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that the league’s ban on concealed carry inside stadiums is only helping criminals and terrorists. Write to his office at 280 Park Avenue, New York, NY, 10017; or tell him on Twitter here.

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