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Guns on a Bus

Chris Lose • LD at LargeOctober 2019 • October 9, 2019

Illustration by Andy Au

Note from the Author: Please read this entire article before you go online and blast me for voicing an opinion on such a charged subject.

The world has turned its’ attention to unnecessary gun violence yet again. Criminals have shown that no event is exempt, no situation is too risky, and no location is too sacred to be desecrated. Even the positive communal vibe of gathering to relax at a concert is not immune to the virus of hateful, ignorant gun violence. Do we have a duty to stand up? Do we have a burden to do something? Do we have an obligation to defend the guests in our venues? What can we do?

I wrote an article recently about what I think we should do in the case of an active shooter in a concert setting. I made three suggestions: House lights up, get out of the venue and find shelter. I have discussed my plan with several people, and the majority of them agree with my escape plan mentality. However, a respectful minority of professionals has made a very strong case for standing their ground. They have shown me that they are ready and willing to return fire when necessary. I feel it is necessary to open up a dialogue for anyone who wishes to investigate the logistics of carrying a firearm on the road as a touring professional. The good person with a gun is far more prominent in the movies than she/he is in real life. If you are absolutely certain that you are that good person with a gun, then here are some factors that you need to consider.

Logistics: Carrying a firearm on the road is a legal logistical nightmare. You are far more likely to injure yourself or someone you work with than you are to prevent a mass shooting. Our job as production personnel lies in just that, production services, and not those of armed security. If you want to be paid to carry a weapon to work, then you should look into a career change and go into the security side of the entertainment business.

Legality: The Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) is a federal law, enacted in 2004, that allows qualified retired law enforcement officers to carry a concealed firearm in any jurisdiction in the U.S., regardless of state or local laws, with certain exceptions. If you fit into this category, then you can consider yourself a decent candidate for leniency while legally carrying. Even with these credentials, there are certain businesses and venues that reserve the authority to deny you entry onto their premises with a firearm. For instance, don’t bring your pistol to a casino in Pennsylvania. Even with all the proper training and permitting, there is a risk of “blue on blue.” If cops get a call for an active shooter situation at a gig, they will arrive looking for someone shooting towards the crowd. If that person is dressed in all black, that person will likely get shot.

Permissibility: Even with a state-issued concealed carry permit, the USA is a patchwork of reciprocity. Some states accept other states’ CCW permits, and others don’t. You could drive from a Hard Rock in Las Vegas to a Hard Rock in Los Angeles and be subject to completely different permits. You can all but rule out doing a tour that crosses the border into Mexico or Canada. For more info, go to nraila.org/gun-laws.

Ability: You must consider your own ability to fire at a moving target in a crowded environment without hitting innocent patrons. We have seen in European events that the assailants have used “bomb vests” that make it even more important to make an immediate stop to the bad guy, i.e. a headshot. According to the LAPD’s 2016 report, the average annual hit ratio from 2012 through 2016 was 33.4%. (Meanwhile, stormtrooper aim appears to be most accurate at in Episode III (37.4%) and least accurate in Episode IV, at 2.8%.)

Storability: Post 9/11, most venues have bag checks and metal detectors at the crew entrances. While they usually are not terribly effective, packing without permission means there is a fair likelihood of being discovered. On the bus, you will need a portable lockable storage case. Remember, you are putting everyone on your bus in a situation where they would need to be mindful of being in close proximity to a weapon in a living situation. We’re talking about a rolling living room where you want to be able to live in a relaxed environment. This is before we even start to discuss the possibility of other contraband being on the bus. You’ll be hard pressed to find situations where recreational drugs or alcohol can be in such close proximity to lethal weapons and not be considered a felony. If you are going to fly on a plane, you may only transport unloaded firearms in a locked hard-sided container as checked baggage. You must declare the firearm and/or ammunition to the airline when checking your bag at the ticket counter. Being in a truss with a gun is a horrible idea for Navy SEALs, much less roadies. Having your down rigger tying your Glock to some trick line isn’t a reasonable option. This scenario is begging to end up in an episode of Archer. Leave it locked on the bus or secured in your workbox. For larger events, (festivals, stadiums, arenas,) cops are usually present and can make a faster and safer stop than an armed crew.

Liability: You must explore the liability and permissiveness of both the company and the tour you work for. Very few companies or tours allow firearms during the course of a workday or on tour-provided transportation. Should a tragedy occur, any punishments will go to the gun owner and the responsibility will end up with whomever has the deepest pockets. Law enforcement agencies have insurance and qualified immunity that can legally protect them and cover legal expenses; most crew members do not.

What Else Can I Do? If I haven’t made this clear, I am not in favor of more entertainment industry personnel carrying weapons outside of professional security details. However, I am absolutely in favor of more people within our industry carrying tourniquets and having proper medical trauma training. Medical training and CPR skills will come in handy far more often than your sniper skills. For those who are convinced that they will be caught in a gunfight at work, I would endorse carrying a Level 3A soft armor. This can come in the form of a ballistic clipboard to be functionally utilized for your paperwork. These items are easily placed in backpacks, which just about every member of production personnel carries. They are pricy but they are capable of withstanding most small caliber bullets. They are very low profile and allow for quick coverage over your back and/or chest in the highly unlikely event that you find yourself in an active shooter situation. It stands to reason that before you protect yourself with a firearm, you will most definitely want to protect yourself with armor and a tourniquet.

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