AL constitutional carry debate may include sporting events

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

The state of Alabama is considering constitutional carry. Frankly, I think it’s got a very high likelihood of passing there, too. Alabama loves its guns and they love their gun rights.

However, many pro-gun states are still hesitant about easing all restrictions on guns. Never mind that the bad guys don’t pay any attention to them, they’re still hesitant about good guys being able to take guns in certain places.

With the upcoming debate on constitutional carry, though, it looks like there will be some debate about guns going one particular place.

Football is a cultural tradition in Alabama cities big and small, where the locals gather on a Friday night to root on the hometown squad.

Alabama is also a deep red and open carry state, where gun ownership is important to many. The state ranks among the Top 10 for gun ownership in the U.S., and the Alabama House GOP Caucus recently signaled that removing the permit requirement to carry a concealed handgun is a priority for them.

For years, guns and sports have not gone together. High school football stadiums, simply put, are a not a place where attendees show up with a gun holstered to their hip.

But with state lawmakers poised this month to begin a debate over permitless carry of concealed handguns – an issue high on the agenda among the GOP majority – a line in one of the proposed bills calls for ending that tradition by removing athletic venues from the list of places where guns of any kind are prohibited.

And that provision is causing a stir among gun control advocates, county sheriffs and Democratic lawmakers.

“There is no reason anyone should be able to carry a concealed, loaded handgun in public without a background check or safety training, but expanding this deadly proposal to allow that at sporting events like high school football games might be one of the most reckless ideas I’ve ever heard of,” said Paul Wilson, a volunteer with the Alabama chapter of Moms Demand Action.

Now, in fairness, we do see fights break out at sporting events on a fairly regular basis. I get people being concerned about guns ending up in the mix.

However, we’ve also seen a lot of people get shot outside of sporting events, and that’s where we have a problem.

See, people who carry are actually less likely to get into a fight. They know they’re carrying a deadly weapon and they typically would just as soon not get into an altercation if they can help it. They know how bad it can be if they get into a fight that escalates to needing lethal force, so they try to avoid it.

But bad guys don’t care.

Look, I probably don’t need a gun in the stadium at a football game. It’s probably not something I’ll ever need. But my son had a friend from high school get shot and killed outside of a football game a couple of years ago. We saw a mass shooting outside of a Nationals game back in July.

Even if I could trust the stadium had perfect security–which I don’t–I also recognize that it has almost no security outside of the gate.

So, as such, talking about people taking guns to games has less to do with what happens inside the stadium and a lot more about what happens outside of it.

Then there’s the fact that people travel to and from games and you have still more reason to allow them to carry. What else should they do? Leave their guns in their cars so they can be stolen? I don’t think so.

While the usual suspects will freak, I think it’s a good conversation to have and I hope they pass it.

Jul 03, 2022 8:30 AM ET