Library Board to Consider Policy Allowing Employees to Carry Weapons

Jul 13, 2017

COLUMBIA — A proposed new policy allowing public library employees to carry concealed weapons will be under consideration Thursday at a meeting of the Daniel Boone Regional Library board of trustees.

The current policy prohibits employees from carrying firearms and other weapons onto library property or in library vehicles, regardless of whether they have a permit. Violating the policy could result in job termination. 

The proposed policy would loosen those regulations and allow employees with valid concealed carry permits to have weapons on library property or in library vehicles. 

According to the proposal, any firearm on library property must be either be carried by the employee or securely stored in a vehicle, desk drawer or staff locker. A firearm in a vehicle must be carried in a holster or locked in the glove box. 

Except for those carrying a weapon as a requirement of the job, a decision to have a gun at the library would be a personal choice. In addition, only the library director could ask employees whether they are carrying a gun or to provide evidence of a permit. All information would remain confidential.

The change mirrors a policy approved earlier this year allowing patrons with concealed carry permits to bring weapons into the library. The new policy stemmed from controversy that erupted after Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch, R-Hallsville, threatened legal action if the library did not update its rules to comply with a state law on concealed weapons that took effect Jan. 1

Missouri residents are no longer required to get a permit to conceal and carry a gun, but state statutes exempt specific establishments including schools, jails, bars, sports arenas, riverboat casinos and some government facilities. Libraries are not on the list.  

In February, after Reisch challenged the library's prohibition of weapons and threatened to sue, the library board amended the existing signs outside the library that banned patrons from bringing firearms inside. The signs continued to ban weapons "unless authorized by law." 

In March, after considerable legal review, the board decided to allow weapons if they were carried by patrons with valid permits. The library cited the Federal Gun-Free School Zone Act, which prohibits firearms on all properties within 1,000 feet of a school. Ulysses S. Grant Elementary School is across the street from the library.

The proposed policy addressing library employees will be discussed at 6 p.m. Thursday in the meeting room of the Southern Boone County Public Library in Ashland. 

The board will also decide whether to close the library for an hour during the Aug. 21 solar eclipse.

The meeting is open to the public.

Supervising editor is Jeanne Abbott.