A lawsuit by two police unions in Minnesota argues the NFL was out of bounds when it adopted a policy that bans handguns in all league facilities and demands that off-duty cops be able to carry their service weapons into the stands as a matter of public safety.
The Minnesota Police and Police Officers Association and the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis sued the NFL on Tuesday, arguing the leagues “Firearms and Weapons Policy” violates a state law that allows law enforcement officers to carry concealed weapons in privately owned businesses even when the businesses ban gun possession by the general public, according Fox News.
The suit also argues that disarming off-duty officers attending NFL games in the name of safety actually puts the public at greater risk.
“This is the most unsafe thing you could do,” Minnesota Police and Police Officers Association Executive Director Dennis Flaherty told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “Officers are trained and encouraged to be able to respond 24 hours a day. This is terrible public policy.”
The Minneapolis police unions have been fighting the policy since the NFL adopted it in September. In October, Lt. John Delmonico, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, asked the Minnesota attorney general’s office for an opinion on whether the ban violated a state law that empowers police officers to make arrests at all times, regardless of whether they’re on duty.
In December, an off-duty Minneapolis police officer at a Minnesota Vikings game was told to leave his gun locked in his car.
The NFL on Tuesday declined to comment to the Star Tribune. However, Jeffrey Miller, chief of security for the NFL, wrote Flaherty in the fall to say NFL games have an average of 150 on-duty local, state and federal officers on duty, and about 500 civilian security workers.
But Delmonico told the Star Tribune state law gives off-duty cops authority for a reason.
“While off-duty police officers with a weapon will be available to protect the public at a moment’s notice, the ability to keep possession of their weapon gives them personal protection against any potential threat,” he said. “This is critical authority that is granted under Minnesota statute.”
Delmonico said Tuesday’s lawsuit is the first against the NFL policy nationally.
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