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Columbia Library Changes Gun Signage After Threat of Lawsuit

Torie Ross

The Daniel Boone Regional Library board of trustees said Thursday night it would amend existing signs outside the library, which ban patrons from bringing firearms inside.

Earlier in the day, an attorney representing Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch, R-Hallsville, notified the library in a letter that she would sue if it did not change the signs to acknowledge Missouri's new concealed carry laws.

The new signage, posted between 8 and 9 a.m. Friday, reads: "No person shall possess, on the library premises, a weapon of any kind, unless authorized by law.”

The old signs read: "Carrying or possession of firearms or weapons prohibited."

The change was made to mirror what the board said is its existing policy on firearms. While the language of the signs will change, the question of whether concealed weapons can be legally brought into the library has not been resolved. The board said it will not take further action on the matter until consulting with its attorney.

The board made the decision during a regularly scheduled meeting. Several members of the public attended the meeting and expressed concern about guns in the library.

Melissa Carr, the director of the Daniel Boone Regional Library, said the signs would be immediately changed.

Toalson Reisch sent a letter to the board through her attorney Jennifer Bukowsky on Thursday, stating that the library is in violation of state concealed carry laws.

On Feb. 2, Toalson Reisch attended a League of Women Voters forum in the Friends Room of the library when someone attending the event overheard her mention she was carrying a gun, the letter said. Toalson Reisch said on Wednesday that she received a slew of hateful emails and phone calls criticizing her decision to bring the firearm, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Missouri’s gun laws changed at the beginning of the year. Starting Jan. 1, Missouri residents are no longer required to get a permit to conceal and carry a gun. But Missouri statutes also state that specific establishments can prohibit concealed weapons.

That statute has sparked some confusion about which establishments apply. Libraries, apart from those owned or operated by courts, are not listed among locations where concealed weapons are banned.