Off-Duty Cops Want to Bring Their Guns Into NFL Stadiums to Fight Terrorism

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Denver Broncos v Chicago Bears
The NFL's policy allows only on-duty officers to carry weapons inside stadiums.Photo: David Banks/2015 Getty Images

Since 2013, off-duty police officers have been prohibited from carrying guns into NFL stadiums. But in the wake of the attack near the Stade de France outside of Paris, the National Fraternal Order of Police has asked the league to once again allow off-duty officers to carry concealed weapons during games because, they write, “Law enforcement, even when working actively with highly trained and skilled security professionals, cannot be certain that all threats will be detected and neutralized.”

Protecting sports venues has gotten increased attention after security at the Stade de France prevented one of the Paris attackers from entering the stadium, and after a soccer match at a stadium in Hanover, Germany, was canceled last month became of a bomb threat. Writes Chuck Canterbury, the president of the National Fraternal Order of Police, in a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, via buckeyefirearms.org:

The terrorist attacks and threats of attacks from organizations like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are selecting targets based on the amount of death and injury they can inflict - mass murder and casualty events. Well-attended venues and areas are being deliberately targeted by the radical killers who do not intend or expect to survive the assault. Law enforcement, even when working actively with highly trained and skilled security professionals, cannot be certain that all threats will be detected and neutralized.

As you know, the FOP does not understand and does not agree with the League on this matter, especially with respect to active and retired law enforcement officers.

Indeed, when the NFL banned off-duty cops from carrying weapons into games in 2013, it explained its decision in a letter to Canterbury, who’d also written to the league then. Via Deadspin: “Recognizing that reasonable people may hold a different view, the NFL believes the safest environment for all fans is achieved by limiting the number of firearms and weapons inside stadiums to those required by officers that perform specifically assigned law enforcement working functions and game day duties.”

That letter from the NFL also laid out the risks of allowing off-duty officers to carry weapons inside stadiums:

If permitted to carry concealed weapons, they create deconfliction issues for working law enforcement officers and increase the potential for “blue-on-blue” response confrontations. … Moreover, off-duty law enforcement officers are not included in the on-site law enforcement chain of command or bound by department or agency-on-duty policies that that [sic] restrict their use of alcohol or subject them to other on-duty behavior standards.

In addition to the letter from the National Fraternal Order of Police, officers in Detroit are also planning to send a letter to the NFL to ask that the policy be rescinded. That letter, which was reviewed by the Detroit News, explicitly cites recent events:

Law enforcement officers often carry a weapon while off duty not only for their own personal protection but to provide a critical response when circumstances call for immediate police action,” the letter said. “Current events, not least the unconscionable acts of terrorism we have recently experienced, only add to the desirability of having readily available armed law enforcement officers even if they are not officially ‘on duty.’”

Gun-control advocates have come out against efforts to change the NFL’s policy. Ladd Everitt, spokesman for the Campaign to Stop Gun Violence, tells FoxNews.com, “If the text of the letter is indeed accurate, it’s not surprising. Chuck Canterbury is a longtime ally of the National Rifle Association who has acted to protect the interests of the gun industry at every turn.” He adds: “This fantasy he has about attendees at NFL games shooting ISIS members is laughable. Thankfully, the NFL knows gun lobby-inspired tripe when they see it.”