Let me begin by prefacing this that I hope this thread can remain civil and respectful despite the question at hand. I am asking this from an honest perspective, this has been a question I have had ever since 2019 when I went down to Houston Champs to compete. My experience with travel to the US (from Canada) is very limited in the past 5 years, being 2 trips to Houston (one being champs), and 1 trip to New Orleans. Before that I have travelled to other states (New York, Hawaii, California, Florida, Oregon, alongside a few others) but those are much further in memory and I can not adequately draw from those experiences.
When I went down in 2019 to attend Houston Champs, I experienced the security measures at the venue where everyone needed to file through a single chokepoint, have their bags checked, in order to get inside the venue. To me, from an outside-US experience, this both very much felt like security theatre and actually made me feel less safe attending. For context, I can’t think of many events here in Canada that have security measures like that beyond the airport. It was very foreign to me, but talking to various friends from across US states (both in and out of FRC), they all spoke about it as it being just the norm for any sport event and the likes.
The question becomes for me, how safe are US FRC events? I am asking this because of recent high profile mass-shootings in the US, recent discussions about safety and champs, and the fact that this question has constantly been at the back of my mind ever since that trip. As well, attending other, lower profile, events in the US hasn’t made me feel this way, only attending champs has ever made me question my physical safety.
I would attribute the reasons to this: (and I am focusing on Houston Champs as that is the only US FRC event I have personally attended)
- The amount of people in an extremely crowded venue.
- The lack of available exits, and the crowding of entry points.
- How while security checked every bag, it felt heavily like security theatre and would lack the teeth to actually stop a threat.
- (This one is Texas specific, and does not apply to all events) The Texas open-carry laws and the ability to carry handguns without a license.
- The event being a high profile event, and therefore a possible target.
I am very curious what other people think. I am coming from this as a Canadian used to a very different culture around safety, as well as with different laws surrounding weapons. And before you brush this away as “it’s just some Canadian not feeling safe in the US because of media”, this isn’t just me with this concern. During that champs, I talked with a fair few other Canadians attending, and many felt the exact same safety concerns. This is a reasonable concern, and I would very much like to hear what the broader Chief Delphi community has to say regarding this (with all FRC events). Thank you.