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