Meeting Mentor Magazine

March 2024

IAVM Survey

Majority of Venue Managers Would
Prohibit Firearms If They Had a Choice

Forty-four of 50 states in the U.S. now allow some form of “open carry” of firearms, although those laws vary widely. What does this mean for public venues? Should a prohibition on guns in the venue trump a state’s desire to allow citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights?

With those questions in mind, International Association of Venue Managers VenueDataSource recently undertook a survey. Responding venue managers represented large, medium and small arenas/civic centers, stadiums, convention centers and theater/performing arts centers.

Here are a few key findings from “Firearms in the Venue”:
• Two-thirds (66%) of venue managers surveyed work in states that permit open carry of firearms, and where local jurisdictions cannot pass contradictory legislation.
• More than half (56%) of respondents are permitted to establish policies regarding open carry of firearms into the venue, and of those, 61% prohibit customers from bringing them into the building.
• State open carry laws confuse venue professionals, since regulatory levels can differ considerably: permissive (no license required); licensed; may-issue (rarely granting licenses); anomalous (legality varies by locality); non-permissive (lawful under limited circumstances); rural (where population is below a threshold).
• Prohibitions on open carry in licensed liquor venues appear contradictory or inconsistent, the report noted. This is important, since 93% of responding venues sell alcoholic beverages on premises. Some 41% of venue managers who serve liquor on premises (and where licensed liquor establishments prohibit open carry) are still compelled to allow open carry into their buildings.
• Respondents believe the laws have a negative impact on securing events (8%), and on attendance (9%).
• Permission to allow lessees to decide handguns can enter the venue is granted more often at convention centers and other venue types than at arenas, stadiums and performing arts centers.
• As a result of their open carry laws, half of respondents had to take some action; for 33% that mostly involved increased visibility and training of security personnel.

The upshot: 61% of responding venue managers would not allow firearms in the venue at all if they had a choice. Click here to find out more about the study. — Maxine Golding

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