BY KATIE DAVIDSON, COPY EDITOR
You’re at your favorite team’s intense college football playoff game—just try to imagine it, Minnesota fans—surrounded by emotionally-charged fans who tend to do and say things during the heat of the game that they typically would not in other circumstances. During the last 30 seconds of the game, a referee makes a bold call sending the fan behind you into an outrage.
This fan has been obnoxiously cheering for their team, yelling at the refs throughout the game, but after this late-in-the-game questionable call, they pull a gun out and use it out of rage.
As outrageous as this scenario may seem, it’s one that Arkansas lawmakers will have to consider when determining the future of a new law that would allow for concealed handguns to be carried on college campuses, some bars, government buildings and even the capitol building.
When signed on Wednesday, March 22 by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, the Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium and the Bud Walton Arena, where University of Arkansas football and basketball games are played, were included in the list of public venues where concealed handguns would be permitted, according to Sports Illustrated. Sports Illustrated also reported that as of Thursday, March 23, the Arkansas Sen- ate voted to exempt college sporting events from the law, but those in favor of the law and other gun rights advocates will push for the law to be passed in its original format before it is reviewed by the Arkansas House.
The law would go into effect on Sept. 1 but would give Arkansas law enforcement until January 2018 to create the eight-hour training programs that those who wish to carry concealed weapons at the above-mentioned locations would have to complete. If Razorback sporting events are among the locations where loaded guns will be allowed in the final version of the law, football and basketball spectators, coaches, players, refs, etc. won’t have to worry about getting gunned down by a rowdy fan until the 2018 football and basketball seasons.
I, for one, agree with some sports writers, including Chris Strauss of FOX Sports, who believe that the NCAA and SEC need to take a stand on this law by having opposing teams refuse to play in Arkansas if this law goes into effect. By doing this, not only will teams in the SEC and Arkansas’ other opponents protect their own fans, coaches and players, but a ban like this would also save the University of Arkansas from losing potential recruits who may be turned off by attending their school if it allows for concealed handguns to be carried at sporting events.
Student athletes should only have to worry about protecting themselves from opposing teams’ defenses, not disgruntled, armed fans, too.
This article first appeared in the Friday, March 31, 2017, Edition of The Echo