Proposed legislation which would require that guns be allowed into public buildings and events unless metal detectors, security guards, gun lockers and signs were present has sports officials and concert-hall operators nervous.
According to the Arizona Republic the concern is the bill is not totally clear and could lead to the misperception that Arizona allows guns into major events like football and basketball games.
The confusion has led to discussions among the Valley’s major sports teams and operators of large entertainment venues.
“This bill will give the impression that Arizona allows guns into concerts and basketball games,” said Terry Burke, president of major concert promoter Live Nation Southwest.
“There is a perception that you are allowed to bring guns everywhere, but then there are all these exceptions.”
Burke said it appeared the bill would allow guns at family shows that don’t serve alcohol, such as “Sesame Street Live” or “Disney on Ice.”
Critics say the extra measures could lead to higher ticket prices as well as performers maybe avoiding the state altogether.
Arizona already lost business after the controversial SB 1070 was passed, and the fear that this bill would be another black eye for the state is one shared by some.
However, the Citizens Defense League, the gun-rights group that wrote the bill, feels the issue is not the bill but rather confusion over what it actually entails.
“No one understands the gun laws,” league spokesman Charles Heller said, contending that venues that serve alcohol are governed by a separate set of laws. “(SB 1201) won’t impact them.”
The bill would not apply to sports events held at universities, such as football games at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, because property that belongs to K-12 schools, universities and community colleges fall under a different section of state law and would not have to comply with SB 1201.
Private facilities would be exempt from the bill’s requirements.
The report by the Republic says an agent for John Mellencamp and ZZ Top, Bob Merlis, said he could not imagine any artist agreeing to perform at a venue where guns are allowed in the audience, adding that “the fear of every performer onstage is that some nut will shoot them.”
Ralph Marchetta of the Suns and Mark Dalton with the Cardinals said their respective organizations are opposed to the bill, with Marchetta saying it could have a negative effect on ticket sales and the artists they could attract and Dalton saying the applications of the bill would be impractical.
That said, one of the bill’s sponsors says it was not intended to target arenas, just public buildings. Ron Gould did add, though, that he would like to see metal detectors and armed security guards at arenas in the future.
“I think fans would like that,” he said, adding that it would give them more assurance that the facility was safe.