Kriston Capps is a staff writer for CityLab covering housing, architecture, and politics. He previously worked as a senior editor for Architect magazine.
The national police union wants off-duty officers to be able to carry concealed weapons into stadiums on game days. That would be a mistake.
The National Fraternal Order of Police is calling on the National Football League to rescind its ban on concealed-carry guns in professional football stadiums. That would mean that off-duty cops could bring weapons into stadiums on game days. National police union president Chuck Canterbury says that concealed carry is necessary to protect NFL fans, players, and crews from ISIS.
First things first; let’s all get it out of our systems:
—The only gun my team needs is Carson Palmer!
—The NFL needs more than concealed-carry in Philly—it needs special forces!
—Should the NFL take on ISIS before it does something about Greg Hardy?
Jokes aside, opening up stadiums to concealed-carry weapons is a bad idea. “This is an absolutely terrible idea for four reasons,” says John Roman, a senior fellow in the Policy Advisory Group and the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute. Here are the reasons Roman outlines over email:
- The kinds of weapons needed to cause mass harm are already being screened for at NFL stadiums. This is not a soft target.
- There are already armed officers present or proximate. What's gained here?
- Putting cops with concealed weapons in proximity with young, drunken, agitated men is a recipe for disaster.
- Even the best trained officers, including SWAT, miss more shots than they hit, much less an off-duty officer who maybe had a couple beers.
Allowing off-duty police to carry weapons in stadiums isn’t the worst idea that police unions have ever had. That distinction might be reserved for the moment earlier this week when the Colorado police union decided to slam Black Lives Matter activists by praising Robert Lewis Dear Jr.—the Planned Parenthood shooter who killed three people, including a police officer—for following police commands and surrendering “peacefully.” That statement showed world-historically poor judgment, even if it was typical of the bloodless rhetoric of police unions over the last year.
Letting fans carry guns in stadiums is a bad idea because it won’t stop ISIS, which is not a realistic threat in the U.S. Packers fans are much more likely to die of frustration from Aaron Rodgers’s slump than from a terror attack at Lambeau Field coordinated from the Levant. The same goes for Syrian refugees: If it’s highly unlikely that anyone in America will ever die from by the hands of ISIS, it’s almost impossible that it will be by the doing of a highly screened Syrian refugee fleeing the terror of ISIS.
America shouldn’t design policy around threats that don’t affect us. Even in Paris after the tragedy, it is still incredibly rare to die there in a mass shooting—one reason that Parisians refuse to be cowed. Americans certainly don’t need to act in fear.
In the U.S., the threat that police unions need to face is that one day—maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but one day—police unions will lose their grip on municipal politics if they don’t seriously grapple with the law-enforcement crisis facing this country.