The National Football league prohibits off-duty officers from bringing guns into their stadiums.
Two Minnesota law-enforcement agencies have a problem with that rule.
As a result, those agencies have filed a lawsuit against the NFL challenging its authority to prohibit off-duty officers from bringing guns into Vikings games, according to StarTribue.com.
Minnesota’s state law has allowed licensed officers to carry weapons into private establishments, even if signs banning guns are posted, since 2003. However, the NFL instituted a policy forbidding anyone other than on-duty officers and private security personnel working its games to carry weapons in stadiums in September 2013.
The lawsuit contends that NFL policy not only violates state law, but is unenforceable.
During Minnesota’s final home game in December, an off-duty Minneapolis police officer attending the game was told to take his gun and lock it in his car, which added more fuel to the fire.
“This is the most unsafe thing you could do,” Dennis Flaherty, executive director of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, and one of the plaintiffs, told StarTribune.com. “Officers are trained and encouraged to be able to respond 24 hours a day. This is terrible public policy.”
In addition, Michele Kelm-Helgen, chairwoman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, told StarTribune.com, “The authority also believes that the NFL’s handgun policy is inconsistent with state law and generally unenforceable, despite the December incident.” Kelm-Helgen does not believe the Sports Authority is contractually obligated to comply with the policy.
According to StarTribune.com, NFL chief security officer Jeffrey Miller believes public-safety inside stadiums is best served by on-duty officers assigned to the game. However, he reportedly said, “The likelihood of law enforcement actually using deadly force inside a stadium is extremely remote.”
Both sides have valid arguments.
The NFL has to be concerned about an off-duty officer having a few alcoholic beverages and the risk of a spectator obtaining a gun from an impaired agent. There is also the risk of striking panic in a crowded stadium if a gun is spotted on a person not in uniform.
Of course, officers are trained to carry weapons, and considering they are expected to be on-duty at all times, they understandably want to carry their firearm. It is easy to understand why they are offended by the NFL’s policy.
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