UPDATE: The Daniel Boone Regional Library Board of Trustees agreed to a new policy that allowed concealed weapon permit holders to bring guns into the libraries.
The policy bans most weapons from the three libraries in Columbia, Ashland and Fulton. Guns are only allowed to be carried concealed on the property by CCW permit holders. Those that bring a concealed gun without a permit may face criminal charges in Columbia and Ashland, since both libraries are within 1,000 feet of a school. Federal law makes it illegal for people to carry concealed weapons near schools without a permit.
Several people spoke at Thursday night’s hearing in opposition to any guns being allowed in the library. Many considered the library a sanctuary, and allowing any guns would make it unsafe. Jane Murfett, a Columbia mother of two, said those carrying concealed weapons often escalate the danger of a situation.
“I think it’s more likely that people will be shot in those situations,” Murfett said.
State law allows permit holders to bring concealed weapons into libraries. Board members said the new policy puts them in line with state law, and avoids potential civil action taken against them.
“The result of that is we would be sued, and we would lose, because that would be counter to what the law is,” board trustee Brouck Jacobs told ABC 17 News. “We have no interest in a futile effort.”
Board trustee Bill Young said that libraries’ exclusion from the public institutions allowed to craft stricter gun policies was an “oversight.” While state law does not require a person obtain a CCW license to carry a concealed weapon, it does require a license to carry one into certain places, like police stations or courthouses. Young asked the DBRL staff lobby state leaders to allow libraries the chance to make their own rules regarding weapons. Murfett told ABC 17 News she expected that to be the only way the Columbia library could legally keep guns out of the building.
Trustees also asked staff to look into bringing in full-time security to the library. Right now, a uniformed Columbia police officer works security part-time at the Columbia branch. Options include looking to the sheriff’s department or University of Missouri police, who have state police powers, if CPD is unable to do it full-time. Board president Susan Daly said it was a smart move, given people’s concerns over the new policy.
“Let’s explore our options and maybe have full-time police presence in our building so that people will feel more safe and secure in coming here,” Daly said.
ORIGINAL: Trustees of the Daniel Boone Regional Library Board will meet Thursday to discuss the library’s weapons policy.
ABC 17 News reported last month that the board would review its policy after state Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch brought a concealed gun to a legislators forum at the library, sparking complaints.
Signs outside the library at the time prohibited bringing weapons into the Columbia library. Reisch’s attorney, Jennifer Bukowsky, wrote to the board shortly after the forum, saying the prohibition of weapons on public property was unconstitutional.
Currently, the library allows weapons “authorized by law.”
The board of trustees will review the policy in both closed and open sessions Thursday night. The board has the authority to close the meeting for “confidential or privileged communications between a public governmental body or its representatives and its attorneys.” Right after the closed session, the board will open it up to the public again, where its weapons policy will be the first item of discussion, according to the library’s public relations manager Mitzi St. John.
(Editor’s note, 3/16: This story has been updated from its original version, titled “Library board to discuss weapons policy.”)