When attacking the Right-to-Carry, gun control advocates often cite what they view as a lack of sufficient training requirements for permit holders, contrasting these requirements with those placed upon police officers. For instance, in a document criticizing the Right-to-Carry, the Brady Campaign (then-Handgun Control Inc.) noted, “in stark contrast to the lack of CCW applicant training, police officers receive hundreds of hours of training in marksmanship and non-violent conflict resolution, including role-playing real-life scenarios, to ensure that their firearms are carried safely and not fired carelessly.” Similarly, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) laments on their website, “[t]raining requirements-if there are any for permit holders-are no more rigorous than a single day-class in instruction.” However, as it turns out, many in the gun control community aren’t actually concerned with the amount of training an individual receives before exercising their Right-to-Carry, but are opposed to anyone exercising this right at all; as evidenced by the fact that they don’t want highly-trained police officers to go around armed either.
Late last month, Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) National President Chuck Canterbury sent a letter to National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell requesting that the league change a 2013 policy prohibiting the lawful carry of firearms by off-duty and retired law enforcement officers at NFL facilities. The letter pointed out that terrorists select targets “based on the amount of death and injury they can inflict,” including, “[w]ell-attended venues and areas,” and that the current disarmament policy “weakens the safety and security of NFL players, personnel and fans.”
This move by the National FOP has been followed by actions taken by local affiliates and other police unions. As reported by the Detroit News, the Detroit Command Officer’s Association, Police Officer’s Association, and Lieutenants and Sergeants Association have signed a letter asking the NFL to rescind the ban. The letter explained, “[l]aw 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,” citing that, “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.’”
Similarly, the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio sent letters expressing their concerns to Cleveland Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam and Cincinnati Bengals President Mike Brown. The letters note, “[w]e know that deranged individuals will select their attack where no uniformed and armed law enforcement is located as the success of their mission is gauged on body count,” and that “[h]aving more trained law enforcement officers, even though off duty, will only enhance everyone’s safety that is in attendance at your stadium.”
The recent letters are only FOP’s most recent actions against this unwise NFL policy. In September 2013, following formation of the policy, FOP sent a letter to Goodell expressing their opposition to the new rules. In it, Canterbury pointedly noted, “[l]aw enforcement officers, which you employed to protect teams and the stadiums in which they play, do not suddenly become a security risk if they attend an NFL game on their day off or after they retire.”
Despite the fact that these groups are merely requesting that trained law enforcement professionals be allowed to carry at NFL events, gun control supporters have attacked their position. Rather than consider the substance of the police organizations’ position on this matter, in an interview with Fox News, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence Director of Communications Ladd Everitt dismissed the idea of armed individuals halting terrorist violence, and called the FOP’s concerns, “gun lobby-inspired tripe.”
NRA has long recognized the benefits of off-duty and former law enforcement officials carrying in defense of themselves and the general public. That’s why in 2004, NRA worked with our allies in Congress to enact the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, or LEOSA. The law provides that qualifying current and retired law enforcement officers may carry firearms throughout the country. Alleviating any concerns about diminishing proficiency, retired officers are required to maintain a certain level of competence with firearms in order to qualify.
While armed off-duty and retired law enforcement have the potential to protect the public from a wide variety of criminal behavior, their potential to combat mass violence is particularly important. No less an authority than former-Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble has suggested that an armed population could be an effective means for battling extremist attacks. Speaking on the topic in a 2012 interview with ABC News following a terrorist attack at a mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Noble stated, “[s]ocieties have to think about how they're going to approach the problem.... One is to say we want an armed citizenry; you can see the reason for that.” Noble went on to say, “[a]sk yourself: If that was Denver, Col., if that was Texas, would those guys have been able to spend hours, days, shooting people randomly? ... What I'm saying is it makes police around the world question their views on gun control. It makes citizens question their views on gun control. You have to ask yourself, 'Is an armed citizenry more necessary now than it was in the past with an evolving threat of terrorism?'”
Current NFL policy does not respect the life-saving potential of properly equipped off-duty and retired law enforcement officials, provides a less-than-optimal security environment for fans, players, and employees, and should be rescinded. In addition, the anti-gun community’s reflexive response to the police organizations’ statements reveals the extent of their objectives. Restricting the rights of the general public is simply not enough for these zealots. For them, everyone, regardless of training or professional status, should be prohibited from carrying arms for self-defense unless operating in an official state capacity.