Safety & Security

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Arkansas and Tennessee Grapple with Concept of Guns in Sports Facilities

19 Apr, 2017

By: Michael Popke

Off-duty police officers and sheriff’s deputies in Tennessee will be allowed to carry guns into major sports venues if Republican State Sen. Jim Tracy gets his way.

Specifically, according to The Tennessean, Tracy’s proposed bill “would prevent any law enforcement officer with a ticket from being denied entry, and the owner or operator of the facility can require notification, which would have to be posted at the facility.”

Tracy says the bill, which is now making its way through the Senate, is “common sense.”

Right now, state law prohibits weapons in Nissan Stadium (NFL’s Tennessee Titans), Bridgestone Arena (NHL’s Nashville Predators), Neyland Stadium (University of Tennessee), FedEx Forum (NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies) and Finley Stadium in Chattanooga.

Supporters of the bill argue that off-duty law enforcement officers might run into people they’ve previously arrested and should be armed to protect themselves.

“If a law enforcement officer has the right to carry a gun, they should be able to do that,” Tracy told The Tennessean. “I would love that, actually.”

Many Arkansas residents do not love the fact that state Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a new law last month that allows concealed handguns at colleges, government buildings and bars. Pressure from constituents, in fact, was so great that members of the state Senate have asked for an exemption to the law for college sporting events.

Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey didn’t wait long to weigh in on the issue. “Given the intense atmosphere surrounding athletic events, adding weapons increases safety concerns and could negatively impact the intercollegiate athletics program at the University of Arkansas in several ways, including scheduling, officiating, recruiting and attendance,” he said in a statement.

The bill, as it stands now, is set to take effect in September.

Late last year, a bill introduced in Washington’s House of Representatives would have allowed anyone to carry licensed firearms into sports stadiums in that state.

The issue of guns at sports events took an unexpected turn recently when an Ohio man was arrested for bringing a gun to a youth baseball game. The man, who told police he was angry about the noise and disruption the games caused near his house, Fathers of some of the children told police the man said, "I’m tired of these kids running through my yard. I’m going to kill them.“

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