Saturday, February 26, 2011

Guns at Games: CIB and Colts Probably Right About Gun Bill

Chris Worden on the Capitol Watch Blog has an interesting post about the Senate Bill 292, a meausre which would prohibit political subdivisions (such as cities, counties, towns, etc.) from passing local ordinances to regulate gun possession.  The CIB and the Indianapolis Colts are screaming that the bill would apply to let patrons pack heat to Colts games..  The Indianapolis Star reports that at a 10 Points Coalition Meeting to address gun violence, former Indianapolis councilor Bill Dowden , who heads a pro-gun rights group, said the the Colts and the Pacers could still restrict gun possession through the use of language on tickets admitting patrons to the games at Lucas Oil Stadium and Conseco Fieldhouse.  (For some reason, the link to the article, which appeared in today's paper, cannot be found on-line anymore.)

Lucas Oil Stadium

Typically I'm strongly in favor of anything that will tick off the CIB and the owners of the Colts and Pacers, all of which have no problem screwing over Indianapolis taxpayers.  Certainly I am in favor of a state law that prohibits political subdivisions from overriding this state's gun laws.   For example, if the legislature allows guns in state parks, that same rule should apply to city parks.  To do otherwise is merely to disarm the law abiding citizen while leaving law-breakers armed.

Let me just also say that I'm not surprised to read in the article that Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard came down against gun possession.  Ballard has shown time and time again his hostility to the Second Amendment and gun rights. I fully expect he will try to further restrict gun rights this year in response to gun violence and pressure from his liberal, anti-gun rights Public Safety Director Frank Straub.

But I digress.. This article is about the law.  Bill Dowden, who is not an attorney, has a legal position that is based on the ticket, as a contract, overriding the law.  Contrary to what he apparently believes, states certainly can pass laws that override private contracts.  Remember a year or so ago when the legislature passed a law giving gunowners the right to keep a gun locked in their car when on an employer's property?  That law overrides employee rules and a gun prohibition that might be in an employer-employee contracts.  Unlike the national government, state governments have sweeping authority to regulate private business relationships and give people additional rights not mandated by any constitution.

Whether or not SB 292 would be interpreted to allow contractual exceptions is open to debate.  However, as Worden notes, the bill already contains explicit exceptions:
"(1) employers can restrict gun possession for their employees acting within the scope of their duties; (2) courtrooms can be gun free; (3) public hospitals can be gun-free, as long as they have secure correctional health units staffed 24-hours a day by law enforcement; and (4) a subdivision can ban the “intentional display of a firearm at a public meeting.”
The fact that the authors of the bill have included a list of exceptions, and tickets to sporting events with gun prohibitions included is not one of those exceptions, would lead one to believe that if this case were litigated, a court would not carve out the exception Dowden suggests.

I am not really afraid of licensed gun owners acting irresponsibly and turning a professional sporting event into a gun fight.  But the legal effect of the law at least should be represented accurately.  If they are saying SB 292 would not override a contractual relationship created by a patron buying a ticket to a sporting event, well that is probably not correct.


Unigov said...

I disagree...Lucas and Conseco are publicly-owned. The City and CIB don't have a right* to ban weapons on publicly-owned property. The ticket as a contract can not override this.

* The City doesn't see any limitations on its power, even limits expressed in the state constitution...this is why 'no guns in parks'.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Unigov, I don't think we disagree. I wasn't talking about the current state of the law.

If you're saying that the current gun laws doen't allow municipalities to adopt place additional limits on gun rights protected by state law, I've been making that argument for a long time.

We're definitely in agreement that you can't override the gun law with a ticket "contract." If they put an exception into the law, then you probably could, though I think you would argue the constitutional right is absolute and not subject to limits. While that position has merit, I don't think the courts today would buy it.

My post was really about clarifiying the power states have. Some people think a contractual agreement would take precedence over a statute. States though have the power to adopt laws that override private contracts such as been employer-employee and management-patron. Unless it's clear the ticket contract is excepted from the statute, it wouldn't be.

M Theory said...

No guns at arenas, but I am most certainly in favor of the naked body porno scanners at the gates of all major sporting events. Every person who attends events at the gladitorium should be scanned (for their own safety, of course).

The government says the scanner are safe!

Don't believe those kooks who say there is evidence the porno scanners unzip human DNA. And it is absolutely no problem the DHS has not released the scanner testing results to the public by the deadline that passed a few weeks ago.

Had Enough Indy? said...

Just to add some details -- I do believe that Lucas Oil Stadium is State property, not City property. Is this law allowing guns at the State Fairgrounds, too?