The group that runs the city’s professional sports facilities is concerned that state legislation would allow Hoosiers with gun permits to carry their weapons into its venues.
Senate Bill 292, introduced by Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, passed on a 38-12 vote Monday and has advanced to the Indiana House of Representatives. Rep. Mike Speedy, R-Indianapolis, has signed on as a House sponsor. Both chambers are controlled by Republicans.
With the exception of schools, courts and law-enforcement offices, the bill would trump local rules that prohibit licensed gun owners from carrying their weapons on municipally owned property.
For the Capital Improvement Board of Marion County, which operates Lucas Oil Stadium, Conseco Fieldhouse and Victory Field, as well as the Indiana Convention Center, the proposal presents huge concerns.
Foremost is the impact the bill could have on the city’s hosting of the Super Bowl in 2012.
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay sent a tweet on social media site Twitter late last week opposing the gun bill.
“Someones got a bill n Ind.State Legislature making it illegal 4 CIB 2 stop some1 from bringing a gun into Luc Oil,I’m against it,so should u,” Irsay said in the tweet.
CIB currently regulates firearms at all of its facilities, said its attorney, Toby McClamroch.
McClamroch is lobbying lawmakers to exempt CIB buildings from the legislation, but his efforts so far are “not getting much support,” he said at a CIB meeting on Monday.
“That worries me a lot,” CIB member Douglas Brown said. “We could sit around for hours and come up with scenarios where we’d be in a bad place.”
But Speedy, who thinks the bill has wide support in the House, argued the state legislation would help to streamline a “patchwork” of local laws.
“If you’re a law-abiding citizen and you’re properly permitted, you should have the right to carry,” Speedy said.
He and other supporters maintain the legislation won’t affect the Super Bowl or any other sporting event. That’s because, by purchasing a ticket, the spectator accepts the agreement and rules of the ticket seller, which in the case of the Super Bowl would be the National Football League. Its rules prohibit firearms in stadiums.
Still, a lot of uncertainty surrounds the bill. As it’s currently written, the legislation doesn’t contain language that addresses contracts or agreements with municipal corporations.
“But if it takes an amendment,” Speedy said, “there will be an amendment.”
CIB members also expressed reservations about conventions held at the newly expanded convention center, since attendees to those events usually don’t need tickets to enter.
The Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association, which markets the convention center to trade groups and associations, declined to comment on the bill.
CIB member David Shane was more outspoken in his opposition to the bill.
“Help me understand why in the world we would want to create a situation where we couldn’t control the access or the ability to bring firearms into conventions,” he said at the Monday meeting. “Why would we want to have anything but the ability to control this.”
The potential for higher insurance and security costs is worrisome to the CIB as well.
If passed, the bill would take effect July 1.