A new gun rights measure signed yesterday could allow concealed weapons to be carried into Arkansas football and basketball games as early as 2018. Opposing teams should consider boycotting participating in these games should this become a reality in practice. Not due to any political motivation or stand against the law, but because there is a reasonable case to be made that this will put them in an unsafe position.
No matter one’s beliefs about the Second Amendment, the new measure will likely create a situation where one group of people are allowed to carry and others are not. It’s not reasonable to believe players who have a permit and complete the required training will be allowed to have weapons during games. At the very least, team rules will be put in place to assure this is the case. How are you going to ask athletes to surrender the rights afforded to fans?
That, of course, is a lesser concern. The more pressing one is how fans, who can get unruly and irrational during games, will handle this new ability. Staunch proponents would argue this is a non-issue but they should concede that there will be a faction of fans and players who feel more unsafe than before.
And if teams truly have this belief, is it fair to ask them to play? Basketball games are halted when a coin is thrown on the court and football teams can be pulled off when objects are hurled from the stands. There’s a precedent for player and coach safety in these situations.
The onus is on the host school to provide a safe atmosphere and a decision not to adopt a 2013 law permitting faculty to carry on campus suggests state universities aren’t champing at the bit to have more concealed carry at events. Boycotting games would put even more pressure on them to figure out a way to avoid a situation it’s clear they’re not rushing to embrace.