Shops vary in reponse to new law

Some businesses plan to revise their policies and post signs on doors about weapons.
Sunday, October 12, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:33 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Few businesses can raise the ire of their customers like a cable-television provider. Service interruptions and sudden disconnections can flood a customer service department with complaints.

Now, Mediacom is just one of many Columbia businesses that will have to decide whether allowing customers and employees to carry firearms is a good idea.

The new conceal-and-carry gun law was scheduled to take effect Saturday, but an injunction put it on hold pending further legal action.

Mediacom spokesman Stan Milton acknowledged that dealing with people who just had their cable shut off can be a dangerous job. But he said that although Mediacom’s local offices at 901 N. College Ave. have protective glass that separates customers from customer-service agents, the cable company is unsure how it will deal with the new law.

“We’re investigating our options,” Milton said.

Other local businesses have already decided to maintain their normal policies. Wal-Mart, for instance, has never prohibited its customers from carrying firearms into Wal-Marts in any of the 33 other states that have similar conceal-and-carry laws.

“It has not been an issue in any of the other stores, so we’re just going to follow the law,” said Wal-Mart spokesman Tom Williams, adding that individual store managers have the option of barring concealed weapons if it becomes a problem.

Under the law as passed by the Missouri legislature in an override vote of Gov. Bob Holden’s veto, businesses that prohibit customers from carrying firearms must post signs measuring at least 11 inches by 14 inches. However, some of Columbia’s popular hangouts do not plan on asking patrons not to carry concealed weapons.

Jeremy Tengwall, general manager of Forum 8 Cinemas, 1209 Forum-Katy Parkway, said the new law will not have any impact on the theater’s policies, which neither prohibit nor encourage customers to bring a weapon into the theater.

“As for us personally, we’re not going to do anything different,” Tengwall said.

Neither will Hollywood Stadium 14 Cinema, 2800 Goodwin Pointe Drive. The theater is owned by the Wallace Theatre Corp., which already prohibits concealed weapons in theaters it owns across the country. The company’s vice president of marketing and advertising, David Lyons, said steps will be taken, including the posting of signs, to ensure weapons don’t make it into the theater.

“We’ll be talking with (Hollywood Stadium 14) relatively quickly to mirror the new law,” Lyons said.

Columbia Mall also prohibits concealed firearms. But Carla Braudis, the mall’s assistant general manager, says signs asking patrons not enter the premises with a concealed weapon have already been ordered. Security guards will have responsibility for enforcing the ban, she said.

“We have a good security system,” Braudis said. “I’m very confident in it.”

Many chain stores, such as Zales Jewelry, at the Columbia Mall, are awaiting instructions from their corporate headquarters on whether to allow customers to carry concealed weapons into the premises.

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