FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The first day of spring practice also meant the first day Arkansas players were available to speak to the media. Accordingly, it was the first time many of them had an opportunity to express their feelings on HB 1249, the Arkansas law that would allow concealed firearms inside Donald W. Reynolds Stadium.
Not a single player asked felt comfortable with the idea of playing in front of fans who were carrying. Some were quite unnerved by the idea. Even with the law in place, players wouldn’t be allowed to carry their firearm if they owned one.
Running back Rawleigh Williams III, whose dad is a police officer in the Dallas area, had the most to say.
“In terms of how I feel about it, obviously it makes us kind of uncomfortable, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I can just pray about it and hope they make the right decision at the end. I hope so (they’ll do the right thing). Those guys gets paid money to do that. I believe that they’ll make the right decision in the end.”
The “right” decision is in the eye of the beholder, but it was clear Williams, like a majority of fans who have responded, don’t like the idea. About the only people, en masse, who seem to, are those who passed the legislation in the first place.
Bijhon Jackson, a senior Natural state native from El Dorado, spoke similarly to Williams, but he used another, more descriptive word.
“I mean, of course, guns in the stadium would make probably any player uncomfortable. I think they’re still voting on it and everything. Hopefully it turns out in a way that makes us a little, you know, less panicked.”
When the reporter asked him if it was safe to say guns in the stadium was a situation he’d probably not prefer, Jackson appeared a bit more nervous: “Yeah.”
Josh Liddell, a senior safety, is another Arkansas native. He’s from Pine Bluff. Pine Bluff was recently ranked as the seventh most dangerous city in the United States for women.
“I don’t really feel comfortable knowing there are going to be a lot of guns int he stadium, in the same stadium people drink and carry on,” Liddell said. “I wouldn’t feel too comfortable with it. Hopefully that won’t be the case.”
Senior center Frank Ragnow, a fan of outdoors activities who is from rural Minnesota, tried his best to stay out of it. He did say, however, he’d be a bit off-put by it.
“It’d be kind of weird knowing that there’s guns int he stadium, but I mean, we’ll figure it out,” Ragnow said. “I don’t know. It’s not my thing. I’m not really a politics guy.”
Right now it remains to be seen whether the law comes to pass in its current form. The Arkansas state senate passed an exemption last week that would remove sporting venues from having to allow the firearms, but the Arkansas House has yet to follow up with its approval. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey issued a statement Tuesday wishing for the exemption, as well.
As it stands, today, in 2018 fans in the state of Arkansas would be allowed to bring their firearms into Razorbacks games if he or she had proper clearance.