ST. LOUIS (AP) - The St. Louis Zoo has won the fight for now in blocking a gun-rights activist from carrying a weapon on the site’s grounds.
A judge has granted a temporary restraining order against Ohio resident Jeffry Smith until a court can take up the dispute next week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1JV9Ryp ) reported.
The zoo requested the order after Smith announced plans to bring a gun to test its no-weapons policy. The zoo had received “a large number” of calls from parents saying they would pull their children from the facility’s educational programs if firearms were allowed on the premises.
Missouri residents passed an amendment last year for the state constitution, guaranteeing an ‘unalienable’ right to bear arms in the state.
Certain venues, including amusement parks, riverboat casinos and educational centers, are among places where guns are specifically banned under Missouri law, which the zoo argued that it’s covered by in its motion for the temporary restraining order.
“Tens of thousands of families and children visit the zoo on a daily basis for education, recreation and amusement,” the zoo said. “(P)ermitting firearms … to be carried through the zoo will cause a chilling effect on the experience of visiting the zoo.”
But Smith argues that the exemptions don’t apply to the zoo and that the amendment requires it to allow visitors to carry guns into the site.
“The zoo is using a creative interpretation of the law to advance their bias” against guns, Smith said in a phone interview Monday. “The next thing you know, they’re going to claim to be a riverboat casino.”
St. Louis Circuit Judge Joan Moriarty’s restraining order is in effect until a hearing set for June 22.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com
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