In anticipation of Oct. 11, the date a new concealed-gun law will go into effect, county and city governments are enacting policies to ban concealed weapons.
When the Boone County Commission meets tonight, it is scheduled to vote on an order that would ban concealed weapons on county property. An existing order bans weapons on county property but does not specifically apply to concealed weapons.
Although the new gun law prohibits concealed weapons in places such as schools, airports and bars, city and county governments must decide whether to ban concealed weapons on their property.
“Even if it’s not legal to carry weapons into government buildings, a sign has to be posted saying this,” said John Patton, Boone County attorney.
No signs currently ban weapons from Boone County government property. People who bring a weapon into a city or county building will be guilty of an infraction and will be asked to leave. If they do not, they will be guilty of trespassing, according to the proposal.
Columbia will introduce a similar ordinance to prohibit firearms in city buildings such as the city hall, the police station and the Activities and Recreation Center at the next council meeting on Oct. 6, said Fred Boeckmann, Columbia city attorney. The council plans to vote on the measure Oct. 20, and it would go into effect immediately if approved.
“I don’t think anyone will be opposed to it,” Boeckmann said.
Columbia City Police Chief Randy Boehm is in favor of the ordinance.
“I am concerned about the (concealed weapons) law in general,” Boehm said.
Boehm said the department would put up a sign at the police station if the ordinance passes, warning the public that no guns will be allowed in the building, except for those carried by officers.
Parks, schools buckle down
Weapons are already forbidden in local parks, according to the Columbia Parks and Recreation’s rules and regulations, which are posted on its Web site. But the new law has sent schools throughout the state into a scramble to create their own weapons restrictions.
“School boards are really wondering what to do on this concealed-weapons issue,” said Brent Ghan, director of education policy of the Missouri School Boards Association. “We have been inundated with telephone calls. We’re answering a lot of questions from superintendents and board members.”
The association, which advises school boards throughout the state, is preparing a mailing to members to advise them about the concealed weapons law, Gahn said. The mailing will include a sample policy on concealed weapons, he said.
But Columbia public schools already prohibit firearms on school property, said Jacque Cowherd, deputy superintendent of the Columbia School District.
“We have policies in place that prohibit the public and students from carrying guns in schools. It includes teachers and administration but excludes law officers,” Cowherd said. “We sought assistance from the Missouri School Boards Association, and they told us we were in pretty good shape.”
School officials will meet this fall to ensure the right policies are in place, he said.