Sunday, January 10, 2016

Library District Can Learn From Denver Science Museum on Open Carry

As the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District Board of Trustees meets later this week, they will not be discussing the hot topic of open carry in the library. At the board’s November meeting, citizens expressed their concerns over self-defense, the equal application of the law, and the library district intentionally exposing itself to a costly lawsuit. Despite a half-dozen citizens, including Assemblywoman Shelton, speaking out against the district’s illegal actions, no trustee decided to step up and tackle the issue.

Of interest in this matter is a recent action of the Denver (Colorado) Science Museum. They have chosen to remove their policy and signage asking concealed carried weapons stay out of the building. Doing so anyway was not illegal, as Colorado state law (CRS 18-12-214), only prohibits carrying concealed firearms into buildings that have security and weapons screening devices permanently in place at each entrance. The city of Denver is allowed under state law to prohibit openly carried firearms.

The Museum's previous policy was as follows: 
"It is the policy of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science to restrict the presence of weapons within this facility or controlled parking areas. This policy applies to all employees and volunteers of the Museum, visitors, vendors or those who are not specifically authorized to carry such weapons."
The museum’s new policy brought it into alignment with the Denver Zoo and Art Museum, both of which also allow carrying concealed firearms. All three facilities are part of the city’s Scientific and Cultural Facilities District.

The change in policy was based upon recent terrorist attacks and a concern for employees and visitor safety. Vice Present of Finance and Business Operations Ed Scholz told the Denver Business Journal 
"'Paris and San Bernardino got people thinking 'are we doing best practices?' This is a change we decided to make,' Scholz said. 'The safety of our guests and staff is the No. 1 priority of the museum ... it always has been, and we believe we're doing everything we can to keep people safe.'"
"'I think the quick insinuation is that, 'oh the museum is allowing guns,'' he said. 'That's not what's happening. You have to have a permit, the permit allows you to carry it. There's nothing I can do about that, I don't write the law.'" 
Despite the usual rhetoric from the anti-gun crowd, the change was pretty much a non-event. The Denver Zoo and Art Museum has not seen any incidents involving a concealed carrier behaving badly, nor an increase in crime because concealed firearms are allowed in.

The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District could easily take the same approach. The library administration can inform staff of the legality of openly carried firearms in the library. Ideally, the trustees should repeal Rule of Conduct #3 and affirm the legality of open carry under state law. It is the district’s employees and counsel which seem to have forced this matter to become an issue. Rather than simply respect state law, they chose to defy it. Though Nevada’s laws differ from Colorado’s,  the decision and the reasoning behind it are based on principles that would apply hear. The LVCCLD should take a lesson from Denver.

Thankfully, there have been no further reported incidents of a citizen lawfully carrying a handgun openly being harassed at the libraries, yet this does not mean the district is quietly acknowledging the law. Only time will if the district is continuing to enforce its quite illegal policy as citizens continue their business of patronizing their public libraries.

Board of Trustees meet Thursday, January 14, 2016 at 6:00 PM at the West Charleston Library, 6301 West Charleston Blvd. Las Vegas, NV 89146.

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