Alex Derosier wrote this story
A proposal that would lift restrictions on carrying guns in many public places has been approved by the Missouri House Rules Committee, but some professional sports organizations worry it could mean lawsuits over guns at games.
Missouri law currently bans carrying guns in many locations. These include bars, casinos, churches, universities, and stadiums that can hold 5,000 or more people. A bill introduced by Rep. Jared Taylor (R-Nixa) would eliminate restrictions in these and many other locations.
Major League Baseball and the National Football League ban guns and other weapons at their events, but if games are played at publicly-owned stadiums, professional sports teams in Missouri worry it could mean unclear legal territory.
Both the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs testified against the bill in April. A Cardinals representative would later cite potential issues with safety certification from the Department of Homeland Security, an ongoing process for stadiums across the country.
Another concern raised at the bill’s oversight hearing was legal ambiguity in the case of publicly-owned stadiums, but it is unlikely privately run stadiums would encounter this issue.
Criminal defense attorney Jennifer Bukowsky, who represented Rep. Cheri Toalson (R-Hallsville) in a recent dispute where Toalson brought a gun into a Columbia library, said private companies leasing public property can ban guns from their premises. That’s the case in Kansas City, where Jackson County owns the Truman Sports Complex, where both the Chiefs and Royals’ stadiums are located.
“I am under the impression that the stadium is owned by the government but it’s a contract with a private owner,” Bukowsky said.“They can decide the terms and conditions of the contract.”
Mike White, legal counsel for the complex’s authority, says the Royals and Chiefs have absolute custody of control and access to the stadiums during games. Even if Rep. Taylor’s bill becomes law, the two teams can still prohibit guns at their games.
The same would likely be the case at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, but a Cardinals spokesperson said the organization is still worried about potential lawsuits if state gun statutes are changed, saying current restrictions give them another layer of protection from liability.
Rep. Taylor said he is not against amending the bill to address the concerns of teams in St. Louis and Kansas City, but still believes state has too much of a say in the places people can carry guns in.
The bill is currently scheduled for perfection in the Missouri House, but with battles over the budget, lobbyist gift restrictions, and REAL ID in the Senate, it is not likely it will go much further this legislative session.