It’s gun season in summer-collegiate ball, as the Battle Creek Bombers (Northwoods League) are encouraging fans to bring sidearms to C.O. Brown Stadium tonight, and the Springfield Sliders (Prospect League) are raffling off a rifle and a pistol as part of a promo Wednesday.
You never see gun-centric promotions in professional baseball, as Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball avoid the hot-button topic. (Indeed; the official MLB policy prohibits firearms at a ballpark.) As you’ll recall the Huntsville Stars scheduled a gun raffle at a 2013 game before Minor League Baseball came in and killed the promo. And these summer-collegiate promos, especially in the wake of the Orlando nightclub shootings and legislative action to curtail the sale and usage of automatic weapons, may not be coming at the best time, though they were both scheduled months ago.
In Battle Creek, the Bombers are hosting “2nd Amendment Education Night” presented by team sponsor, Freedom Firearms. Much of the activity at the ballpark will be geared toward education, with free trigger locks to fans entering the game. Besides Freedom Firearms, organizations like the National Rifle Association (NRA) will be populating educational booths.
That’s not the issue; the issue is encouraging fans to actually bring their firearms to the ballpark (openly carried and holstered with a concealed weapons permit, conforming to Michigan law). Those with firearms will not be allowed to buy or drink beer at the game. This promo could have been pulled off with no issues if fans had not been encouraged to bring their own guns to the ballpark. From the Battle Creek Enquirer:
While he understands the criticism, [General Manager Tony] Iovieno said the Bombers are open to welcoming groups on the other side of the gun argument, too.
“There are definitely people who do not agree with this or someone who brought their gun to a ballpark and I welcome those conversations and I understand,” he said. “That’s what makes this country and this state great, that we can have those conversations. I will say, I think there’s a giant misconception out there. I am following Michigan law.
“This is not, ‘Hey, bring your gun to the ballpark.’ We are informing you what the law is.”
In Springfield, the Sliders are giving away a a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun and a PARA 1911 .45-caliber ACP handgun via raffle as part of Wednesday’s promotional slate:
He said the promotion is about adhering to what fans in this area enjoy, and giving them a reason to come to the ballpark.
“We just want to get more people into the ballpark that haven’t been to a game. Knowing that the community here is a big gun community we wanted to attract those people into the ballpark and let them see what we have to offer. So after today and they’ve had a chance for the gun giveaway, then they’re going to come back for future games. And that’s what it’s all about,” said Todd Miller, team owner and general manager.
Miller also says the giveaway was in place long before the shooting in Orlando, and he said it was important to deliver what was promised to Sliders fans.
Former Sliders’ manager Pete Romero said he’s extremely disappointed.
“I just think it’s wrong,” Romero said. “I just think with all the stuff going on in the world and for somebody who presents themselves and promotes themselves as a family-friendly organization and something that we cater to kids and families, for guns to be around with what’s going on is totally wrong.
“It has no room for it in the baseball arena.”
The issue here isn’t the rights of Americans to own guns; the issue is whether a summer-collegiate baseball game is the best venue to host those discussions.