Terror attacks prompt call for more guns at stadiums
FOP wants off-duty officers to be allowed to carry weapons in NFL stadiums
The National Fraternal Order of Police says more guns at sporting events could help in the event of a terrorist attack.
Off-duty and retired police officers currently are not allowed to bring firearms into NFL stadiums. The FOP was against the policy when it was issued in 2013.
After the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, the organization sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to talk about changing the policy.
"This policy weakens the safety and security of NFL players, personnel and fans,” the letter said. “Well-attended venues and areas are being deliberately targeted by these radical killers. ... Law enforcement, even when working actively with highly skilled security professionals, cannot be certain that all threats will be detected and neutralized."
Jacksonville FOP president Steve Amos said that because of the policy, off-duty officers and first responders are not equipped to help if an attack were to happen at an NFL stadium, office or practice facility.
"Just remember, when the bullets start flying, police officers and first responders run to the scene while everyone else is running away. That's what we do, so it's best to be prepared and equipped to do that,” Amos said. "The police officers here in Jacksonville have all been through active shooter training -- ever since the Columbine incident. This has been a very proactive department in making sure their officers are trained to react in these types of situations."
The FOP is urging the NFL to lift the current policy on concealed weapon carry when it comes to off-duty and retired officers, especially after the recent ISIS attacks at a major sporting event and concert in Paris.
"Now the cat's out of the bag. People that wouldn't have known or would have been cautious before, now know that officers aren't allowed to carry their weapons off duty in the stadium so that could be a potential problem,” Amos said.
NFL fans News4Jax spoke to said they feel safe at sporting events in Jacksonville, but they had different views on the idea of off-duty officers carrying weapons at games.
"If there are people who are responsible and armed, it would become helpful in the event it was needed,” Anna Jamison said. "I've seen the things they've stepped up there on the news recently, and I feel like if my husband and I decided to go, we would feel safe."
Some think it’s everyone’s right to carry a weapon, as long as they have a concealed weapons permit.
"I feel like anything to continue to protect us (we should do),” Samantha Zarnes said. “If we're putting ourselves out there and these things are happening whether we like it or not, we have the duty to protect ourselves, because these people committing terrorist attacks are choosing to attack us, so we need to choose to be prepared."
But other people don't feel comfortable with the idea of more guns at large events.
"I just don't feel safe with people going in with weapons that are concealed, especially if they're off-duty officers,” Jaguars season ticket holder Jason Lindsay said. “It seems like they should declare that 'Yes, I'm an off-duty police officer, and I have a weapon.'"
But the FOP said there are ways for off-duty officers to be identified by stadium staff. Amos said that with a separate gate entrance and security check protocol, people who bring weapons to stadiums could be easily tracked.
"They'll have their ticket location, their seat location, so it's not going to be a surprise for anybody,” Amos said.
The NFL has not returned a request for comment on the policy or a response to the FOP's letter.
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