Judge up­holds zoo’s gun ban, op­po­nents vow to ap­peal

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION -

ST. LOUIS | A judge has up­held a pol­icy bar­ring visi­tors from en­ter­ing St. Louis Zoo with guns, de­spite pres­sure from gun-rights ad­vo­cates who are push­ing for firearms re­stric­tions to be lifted at zoos na­tion­wide.

St. Louis Cir­cuit Judge Joan Moriarty ruled Fri­day that the pub­licly funded in­sti­tu­tion fits the state law’s def­i­ni­tion of a “gun-free zone.”

The de­ci­sion makes per­ma­nent a tem­po­rary ban is­sued in June 2015 after Ohio gun rights ac­tivist Jef­fry

Smith an­nounced plans to lead an armed group into the zoo to chal­lenge its pro­hi­bi­tion of guns, the St. Louis Post-Dis­patch re­ported.

Mis­souri res­i­dents passed an amend­ment to the state con­sti­tu­tion in 2014 guar­an­tee­ing an “un­alien­able” right to bear arms in the state.

Gun-rights supporters say pub­licly owned zoos have mis­in­ter­preted laws and are il­le­gally ban­ning firearms. Their vic­to­ries in­clude the Hous­ton Zoo, which was ordered in 2015 to take down signs ban­ning guns.

Some zoos, how­ever, have coun­tered calls for pol­icy changes by claim­ing they can be con­sid­ered

amuse­ment parks, day cares or ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions — venues that can legally en­force gun bans in many states.

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