March 15, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) The Minnesota Vikings have expressed concern over legislation backed by police unions that would allow off-duty officers to carry guns in places where other people can't in Minnesota.

The bill would allow off-duty police to take firearms into stadiums and other specified venues as long as they go through regular security screening and present valid law identification, Minnesota Public Radio ( ) reported.

The changes would override a National Football League restriction that limits gun possession to on-duty officers and hired security.

Vikings Executive Vice President Lester Bagley said the bill could impact public safety and stadium security. He said there is already significant law enforcement presence in and outside of U.S. Bank Stadium on game day, including hired security and uniformed officers.

Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association official Dennis Flaherty said off-duty officers could take action if an incident occurs. He noted that a part-time officer who was at shopping center in St. Cloud fatally shot a man who injured 10 people.

''If this attacker had not been encountered by the trained, armed, off-duty police officer who was capable of confronting him, the attacker would have certainly harmed or killed many more people,'' Flaherty said.

Some Democrats on the Minnesota Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee said they were uncomfortable with what they see as the bill's lack of specified precautions. Sen. Ron Latz of St. Louis Park said officers should have to follow rules when they're off duty with a gun where a ban is in place.

''I'm trying to find some reasonable language here that accommodates the desire of peace officers to attend these games and not disarm,'' Latz said, ''but still give the venue the ability to verify that in fact they are who they say they are.''

The legislation cleared a Minnesota Senate committee Tuesday. It now awaits final action by the Legislature.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News,

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