The most recent crisis unveiled itself on November 15, 2015. Ed Mullins, head of the New York Police Department Sergeants Benevolent Association, publicly called for allowing off-duty officers to carry firearms in every NFL stadium. Below is a copy of the petition sent to the National Football League, the United States Senate and every Governor/State House for all 22 states which house NFL teams.
In light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, France, in which a soccer stadium was targeted, the New York City Sergeants Benevolent Association demands that Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of the National Football League, change the policy that forbids on and off-duty and retired law enforcement personnel from carrying firearms into NFL stadiums. This is not only a law enforcement issue, it is a public safety issue that must be immediately addressed. NFL stadiums are often publicly funded and receive monetary incentives paid by tax dollars. We urge all nationwide law enforcement personnel to sign this petition to help put an end to this illogical ruling that puts the lives of so many fans at great risk. Public officials can no longer stand silent. We ask everyone to get involved and make your voice heard.
Interestingly enough, two stadiums (both in the state of Texas — NRG Stadium and AT&T Stadium respectively located in Houston and Dallas) already permit off-duty cops to enter their venues with firearms. This is a case where state law appears to take precedence over the interests of private industry. I’m not sure how the conflict resolves itself but it will be interesting to watch as it evolves through the courts.
However, I do know one thing. The NFL has a “dirty, little secret.” Human stampedes are bad for business. And the NFL is absolutely terrified of the prospect of a stampede in any of its 31 stadiums. Real-world gunfire is one of several scenarios that would likely spark a sudden panic potentially resulting in a deadly stampede.
This makes for a fascinating predicament. The NFL thrives off emotion and the thrill of big hits. But that excitement and those injuries must be kept strictly on the field. Not in the stands and concourses.
Based on historical precedent, the death toll for stadium stampedes usually hovers around the 100 mark. Injuries easily surpass that total, likely by a factor of 5 to 10x. Despite what Americans are conditioned to believe, human stampedes do not discriminate based on ethnicity, culture or continent. Although admittedly less common in the United States, they are a worldwide phenomenon.
While I won’t speak for NFL security, I think its main objective with their Clear Plastic Policy (in tandem with the magnetometers and enhanced screening procedures) is to PREVENT people from carrying concealed weapons into the stadiums. The NFL will not verify this information because it’s a voluntary admission that their venues could be unsafe. Then, the matter quickly descends into a tangled web of plausible deniability and hypothetical litigation issues. But this is more than mere speculation. It’s just common sense.
It might also be unrealistic to assume that all off-duty police carrying weapons would voluntarily refrain from consuming alcohol, prescription medication or anything that could conceivably impair their judgment. But that’s an angle for a different article.
I’m not a mathematician, but I do know that the greater the number of weapons in a stadium (particularly in an alcohol-infused environment), the greater the probability that something COULD go wrong. This opinion is based on raw numbers. Motivation, rationale or justification for the discharge of a weapon is completely irrelevant. If you are in possession of a gun on your physical person, as opposed to it being stored and locked away in a cabinet, there’s a greater likelihood of it being fired.
While weapons are indeed a threat to stadium security, I believe the vastly more pernicious threat is one that’s currently under the radar. One that is by nature “undiscussable.” One that’s incredibly visible, blatantly generic and abundantly obvious. But nobody’s allowed to talk about it.
Hint #1: each stadium holds 50,000 – 100,000 active wireless devices.
Hint #2: the modern, technological equivalent of shouting “fire” in a crowded theater.
I realize this statement is difficult to comprehend… but 75,000 miniature super computers in a large, confined crowd are a force to be reckoned with. They might just “pack a little more punch” than a dozen or so extra guns. This doesn’t require a government degree in emergency incident management. All it takes is a 5th grade education and a dash of situational awareness.
Cell phones + wireless hyper-connectivity + false, real-time information (discounted merchandise, free food, celebrity sightings, etc.) and decentralized breaking news (phony evac orders, bomb threats, etc.) + herding instincts = a potentially bad outcome.
So what could possibly go wrong? How about a “black swan” event that rivals the impact of 9/11 and irreparably alters the course of humanity. Let me give you a one word hint: dominipede. Google it.