Amid a heightened concern about security in sports venues around the world, a police union is calling for the NFL to allow fans to carry concealed firearms inside its stadiums.
The National Fraternal Order of Police, one of the country's largest law enforcement unions, recently wrote a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell requesting that the league lift a 2013 policy that prevents concealed carry at games, citing an imminent threat of terrorism in light of recent attacks in Paris.
“Today, I am writing on behalf of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police to urge you to rescind this policy, which weakens the safety and security of NFL players, personnel and fans,” union president Chuck Canterbury wrote in the letter.
“The terrorist attacks and threats of attacks from organisations 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 neutralised.”
Prior to the 2013 season, the NFL imposed a leaguewide policy banning concealed firearms from permit-holding fans in attendance, including retired and off-duty law enforcement officials.
The policies had previously been determined individually by teams or venues.
“We concluded that public safety inside NFL stadiums on game days would be best served by the carrying of firearms by on-duty officers specifically assigned to work the game as part of the comprehensive public safety plan for the event,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Fox News.
“This approach has been certified by the Department of Homeland Security under the SAFETY Act (Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies).”
The NFL's gun ban was widely criticised by Second Amendment advocates who said the league was infringing upon their rights, arguing that armed fans could help prevent an attack inside NFL stadiums — a stance reiterated by the Fraternal Order of Police.
McCarthy said the league believes the opposite is true.
“Off-duty officers attend games as spectators and are unknown to working law enforcement officers and security personnel,” he told Fox News.
“They may not have the same training and do not participate in the weekly preparation meetings. They are not included in the on-site chain of command. The well-intentioned display or use of gun could have serious unintended and potentially tragic consequences.”