CHARLOTTE, NC — There is a push to get more guns inside Carolina Panthers home games.
Charlotte’s Fraternal Order of Police plans to band with the national chapter to ask the NFL to allow off-duty and retired officers to carry guns when they attend games inside Bank of America Stadium.
Charlotte is one of 32 cities where the police union is pushing the NFL to change its policy put in place in 2013 banning officers from carrying their service weapons.
The FOP’s request is in response to threats of terrorists striking soft targets around the U.S.
“That’s just making everybody at the stadium safer,” said North Carolina FOP President Randy Hagler. “Provided the officers that are carrying their weapon are following all the rules we always have to follow when we’re armed.”
He says that would mean no beer at the game. Also, officers are prepared to show their badge while aiming their guns.
Critics say the problem comes when police can’t tell the difference between an attacker and an off-duty or retired officer.
“Are you going to see my credentials?” asked CMPD Det. Garry McFadden.
He says training also becomes an issue.
“A retired officer who hasn’t been in training or in the field for 2, 5, 10 years, and he comes, he’s not going to go to the training. Or, will he be required to go to the training?” said Det. McFadden.
WCCB Charlotte asked the FOP what they would say to people who think more guns in stadiums would cause more problems.
“What you’re saying then if you say that, is you don’t want more police,” said Hagler. “Police are trained pretty significantly in how to handle weapons, how to handle weapons in a crowd.”
It’s a hard sell to the NFL.
Spokesperson Brian McCarthy wrote, safety is better off in the hands of on-duty officers who work game days.
“These officers are trained in facility-specific response procedures and security protocols; they have specific game day assignments, responsibilities, and duties, and they are subject to an established chain of command. They train together on a regular basis and they are well known to each other,” said McCarthy.
The NFL changed the policy in 2013. Before that, off-duty and retired officers with concealed carry permits could bring weapons into stadiums.
The city declared the last home game an extraordinary event and increased police presence at the stadium.