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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…Texas ain’t all it’s cracked up to be gun-wise. Sure, it has the image as a virtual frontier days Dodge City where every pardner amblin’ down the sidewalk sports a six-shooter, but the Lone Star State’s gun control laws place it roughly in the middle of the Second Amendment rights freedom continuum. Or they did before the legislature passed open and campus carry bills in the last few days. Don’t get me wrong, I just moved from very gun-friendly St. Louis (open carry, no 30.06 signs, “gun-free zone” designations that carry no force of law) to Austin, so I’m happy to deal with the new (to me) restrictions. But imagine my surprise when I read in my home town paper that . . .

the St. Louis Zoo has gone to court to exclude all firearms — open carry and concealed — from its grounds.

Gun rights advocate Jeffry Smith says he won’t be packing heat as he originally planned when he heads to the St. Louis Zoo on Saturday. Smith, 56, of the Cincinnati area, says he believes the zoo has failed to prove its ban on guns and other weapons is legal, but he will not defy a city judge’s order barring him from entering the zoo with a firearm. He had planned to go armed with a holstered .45-caliber handgun Saturday afternoon — and invited other armed zoo-goers to join him— to test the zoo’s policy, a move that has put the St. Louis Zoo in the crosshairs of the gun rights debate in Missouri.

Pay no attention to the Post-Dispatch. There really isn’t much of a gun rights debate in Missouri. The legislature overrode Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of an open carry expansion last year and there’s been very little sturm or drang ever since. Unless, you know, you include Ferguson and its knock-on effects on criminal activity in the city of St. Louis, which has given the usual Democrat machine suspects new impetus to advocate for more 2A restrictions.

Missouri law lists a select few venues where 2A rights can be abrogated. And the Zoo is contorting itself like a nauseated python in order to argue that it now qualifies as a no-go zone for gas.

In its filing seeking the restraining order, the zoo argued it qualifies as at least four types of public spaces where state law says concealed carry of guns can be restricted: “educational institutions, day care facilities, amusement parks and where a business open to the public chooses to restrict the carrying of firearms by posting signs.”

The zoo’s filing describes its educational mission, an on-site pre-school that “utilizes the entire 90-acre campus of St. Louis Zoo as its classroom,” and camps and field trips for adults and schoolchildren. It also describes “amusement rides/attractions” such as a carousel and the railroad.

Uh huh. Throw out that fourth one, gun-free zone signs posted by businesses open to the public mean nothing in MO. Educational institution? If the local kitchenware store gives a cooking class, does that make it a school? The gym where I (fairly) regularly worked out offered child care so the moms in yoga pants could pump iron and do the downward dog. Does that make them a daycare facility in the eyes of the law?


Which leaves “amusement park.” Funny thing: I’ve strolled through the publicly-ownwed St. Louis Zoo many times — sometimes while carrying a hidden heater (I saw no signs prohibiting it) — and I never once noticed the log flume or roller coaster. Must have missed them.

Smith says the zoo, by its own description, is “a government agency” and “clearly isn’t an amusement park,” which he sees as profit-making businesses on private property.

group opposed to guns at the zoo was organizing a protest to counter Smith’s event Saturday.

The signs at the zoo drew attention after a man from Springfield, Mo., said he was asked to leave the zoo on Memorial Day after asking about the signs. Sam Peyton, 40, said he left his own handgun in his car in compliance with the signs but still wore his empty inside-the-waistband holster. He said he and wife visited the zoo, and as he left, he asked security guards about the signs.

They asked if he was armed, and he told them he only had the empty holster. They then asked him to leave, Peyton said.

Nice. Smith doesn’t seem like one to back down, but we’ll see. If both sides push this one hard enough, it could very well end up in the Missouri Supreme Court where the black-robed solons may scratch their chins over what features a park must have before it’s considered the same as, say, Six Flags. Is a teeter-totter enough? How about a merry-go-round? Good times.

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    • Yeah well I woke up today and I am Thor, tomorrow I might just want to be a power ranger.. we will just see how it plays out. Actually, I emailed the St. Louis zoo, and told them I am encouraging all friends, family and co workers to spend their $$$ elsewhere. I stated that they are being racists against law abiding citizens like me and my wife who have CCW licenses here in Missouri. I wish everyone would email them and tell them what they think….


  1. Even if MO prohibits CCW at the zoo.

    It doesn’t apply to OC. Furthermore, St. Louis’ OC restrictions do not apply to CCW holders so legally speaking, a CCW holder can OC into the St. Louis zoo.

  2. Dan – didn’t know you moved. bummer.

    Anyhow, let’s be clear:

    Even if, assuming arguendo that the Zoo is an amusement park (it is not because they do not charge admission, they are free, they are in a special tax zone, and thus don’t pay taxes as an amusement park, and they receive tax support from st. louis county residents as a public entity (I have a tax bill to prove it)): then:

    1) only concealed carry is “prohibited” (actually, it is not prohibited per se, just “not allowed”) – see below
    2) Open carry is not restricted for public places, but as an amusement park, as private property, they could prohibit that – they just need to post guards
    3) Conceal Carrying at an “amusement park” is NOT A CRIME (see MCL 571.107.2) and cops only can ticket you
    4) They will have to put up metal detectors and search bags/people
    5) They will owe MASSIVE refunds to all residents of the County since they now admit they are no longer a public entity. I will gladly take my refund and not go to the zoo.
    6) I will also gladly give up my “membership” that basically gets me free parking.

      • No, I’m Spartacus. You’re Lawrence Olivier.

        Be thankful that you’re not Jean Simmons. Not to be confused with Gene Simmons.

    • my bad – I quoted wrong statute for MO – it is RSMo 571.107.2, but it seems the Zoo’s filing is an admission against interests, namely, that they have not paid the requisite taxes. . . wonder if the Zoo trustees are down with that? . . . . I also found this:

      Missouri Revised Statutes

      Chapter 316
      Shows, Circuses, Amusement Buildings and Festivals
      ←316.030Section 316.040.1 316.045→
      August 28, 2014
      License for shows required, tax imposed.

      316.040. The county commission of all counties shall, not later than the month of November in each year, impose by order entered of record a license tax such as the commission may deem proper and reasonable, to become effective on the succeeding first day of January of each year, upon all . . . . .amusement hall or parlor, music hall or room or other commercial amusement place. . . . . any other kind of public exhibitions, or scenic or gravity railways, cane racks, shooting galleries, baby racks, or other kind of avocations set up in connection therewith; and it shall be unlawful for any person, association, company, corporation or partnership of persons, . . . . . to give, perform or present, exhibit or set up any . .. . . . . amusement hall or parlor, music hall or room or other commercial amusement place, miniature golf courses, pony rides, pinball machines, marble machines, music vending machines and any other device operated by the insertion of a coin, disc or other insertion piece, . . . . . . any other kind of public exhibitions, or scenic or gravity railways, cane racks, shooting galleries, baby racks, or other kind of avocations set up in connection therewith, without first taking out a license therefor from the county clerk and paying the license tax imposed by the county commission as aforesaid, which shall be paid into the county treasury for the use of the general fund of the county; provided, that in any such county having a county license inspector it shall be his duty to diligently see that all such licenses are taken out and that such license taxes are paid, and he shall make such reports and perform his duties under such regulations as may be prescribed by the county commission.

      (RSMo 1939 § 15451, A.L. 1945 p. 1729, A. 1949 S.B. 1116, A.L. 1957 p. 718, A.L. 1979 H.B. 148)

      Prior revisions: 1929 § 14327; 1919 § 11654; 1909 § 11224

      • Did more digging. The zoo is part of a special tax district. Under MO law, that makes it a governmental entity, subject to Open Carry. I think this is gonna play out badly for the zoo. Their lawyers screwed the pooch on this one. should have let him open carry and the novelty would have worn off. Now, they are gonna a ton defending something clearly allowed in the statutes.

    • If I’m remembering things correctly, wouldn’t the position the zoo is taking essentially cause them to lose the endowment under which all of Forest Park operates?

      • Yes. It may be time to challenge the tax bills coming out next month. There is a line item charge for the zoo

  3. According to a brochure my local MO sheriff gave me upon getting my carry permit and the above mentioned link:

    Carrying in places off-limits

    Carrying a concealed firearm in any location specified above is not a criminal act. However, you could be denied access to the premises or may be removed from the premises for doing so.

    If a peace officer is summoned:

    -Upon first offense, you can be cited and fined up to $100.

    -If within six months, a second offense occurs, you can be fined up to $200, and your concealed firearms permit can be suspended for a period of one year.

    -If within on year of the first offence, a third citation for a similar violation is issued, you may be fined up to $500, and your carry permit revoked. If your concealed carry permit is revoked, you are not eligible for the permit for a period of three years.

    • correct. MO is strange. carrying in one of the 17 enumerated “prohibited” locations is not a crime. The statute just indicates your permit does not permit you to carry a concealed weapon into . . . such place (RSMo 571.107.1(1-17)). But under the next section (RSMo 571.107.2), the act of carrying into a location listed above is “not a crime”. so yes, I carry everywhere, except work. While they cannot prohibit me from carrying, this is an employment at will state so they can fire me, even if I have the right to do so. However, there is a public policy argument I am working on (you cannot fire someone for exercising a constitutional right, and MO now has open carry)).

      • Dirk, if they’re claiming it’s an amusement park, file suit and force them to offer crocodile, tiger, and rhinoceros rides.

        And a venomous snake petting zoo.

        I’ll find that to be highly amusing and the park will be packed with visitors videoing the carnage and screams…

  4. I have read, on more than one occasion, where zoo inhabitants have escaped, and mauled, and, or killed visitors to a park.
    Good reason to have that 45 tucked in your waist.

      • My memory is not what it used to be, but it’s coming back to me. There was an incident, not too long ago, maybe a couple, three years ago, where a tiger jumped up and out of the pit, attacked and killed a boy.

        • Gunr, you are correct — and those types of attacks happen all too often. Several gorilla attacks, attacks by big cats — and they’re frightening. OTOH, Gingrich’s penguin attack was amusing.

        • Speaking of gorilla attacks, did you hear about the guys wife that got pulled through the bars, by a gorilla, when she got too close to it’s cage.
          The gorilla, which was a male, grabbed her and started tearing her cloths off!
          She screamed to her husband, “What should I do!”
          The husband yelled back to her, “Tell him the same thing you tell me at home, tell him you have a headache!”

  5. this trend is a direct result of illegals/fraud voting in more democrats in the cities. these laws are new and the population boomb of illegals vote near 80% democrat. why not, they are told democrats will let them stay and break our laws, as reward they get free services they could only dream of in mexico and other South American countries.

    the left importing voters to battle ground areas daily, all willing to vote and vote Democrat only even when their are illegals.

  6. Pennsylvania has a more accommodating gun-carry environment than Texas does.

    I’m not complaining nor making some ‘point’. But I have never understood this.

    People in PA loves them some guns (sans P-Town and Philly) and I’d have thought Texas would be the same damn way. What up?

    Did Hank Hill conceal-carry? He never said but I sure as hell hope he did. He’d wear it well.

  7. St. Louis area is a good place to move away from. Pluses: restaurants and St. Louis Cardinals. Did I mention the St. Louis Cardinals? Minuses: Rams (good riddance), Blues, hot and humid in the summer, colder than a witch’s tit in the winter, in the middle of nowhere, surrounding area populated with real hicks, hundreds of low-caliber municipal police departments just itching to give you a ticket for almost anything, major areas of the city are crime and drug-ridden no-go zones, commie Senator Claire McCaskell, Missouri’s own village-idiot Democrat governor Nixon and incompetent Democrat city mayor, a city police chief clueless on stopping current crime wave, Ferguson and its many similar clones, unbelievable storms, floods, tornadoes, hail, winds, you name it, annoying personal property taxes, many horrible schools, failing infrastructure, rush hour traffic, highways overrun with transient eighteen wheelers and ugly billboards, horrible local TV news programs, bad summer air, and a number of tourist traps that rate no more than one visit. Wanna give the country an enema? This is where you stick the hose. Sorry my job brought me here. Thank God for my CCW license!

    • You need to get a bit west. Several ‘best places to live’ in my stomping grounds. I still say I’m from STL to out of staters. And those hicks are my friends and family, and good people.

      • Thanks. Texas is on my list. San Antonio most likely. Will probably move there eventually now that I’m retired.

  8. Here’s the deal.

    Some major jackhole from out of state decides to announce to the world that he is going to storm that place in Saint Louis known to be a haven for thugs, thieves, and generally no-good shanigans…the Saint Louis Zoo. He is going to make sure EVERYONE knows he is packing heat.

    Then, he makes sure the St. Louis Police Department knows about it.

    And then…he gets slapped with a TRO.

    Meanwhile native Saint Louisan gun owners like me simply say to themselves, “What an idiot” and we go on carrying our firearms wherever we want to carry them, concealed carry. Because we are not freakin’ idiots looking to get our name in the local media and not looking to make ourselves a big huge target for: criminals, law enforcements and anyone else that has an ounce of common sense.

    Do whatever you want to do in Ohio, you jerk, leave us alone.

    • Watch it Paul, after I confessed in another TTAG post that a similar obsessed clown who looks like a bald Mitch Miller and sounds like Wally Cox would make me “nervous” if I saw him parading around an airport terminal slinging a loaded M4 carbine, some busybody named “Chip” climbed on my back and ridiculed me for it.

        • I’m not acquainted with him at all. First time I ever heard of him. I guess he has as many fans as you do. Exactly what is it that makes you think that people are interested in what you have to say? What?

          • I’ll leave fan-counting to you. I’m just here to comment on posts at a site that writes stories about a subject about which I’m passionate. I really couldn’t care less who is or isn’t interested in what I have to say.

    • Behold the False Profit!

      It isn’t as if I just had the misfortune of running into McCain online in the last few days. I have watched this man’s online behavior for three years now. It is always the same: “Agree with me or you are an idiot. Give me a few minutes and will give you a new bodily orifice for daring to disagree with me, and, I let the entire internet world know just how much of an idiot I think you really are. Hee hee hee. ” I have never in my life heard such nasty vitriol come out of the mouth of any Christian pastor or priest, Protestant or Catholic, than the vile, self-absorbed rantings of this man.

      Paul T. McCain is truly a mean-spirited, vicious, sorry excuse for a human being.

      But let’s let Rev. McCain (Rev. McNasty, as I prefer to call him) speak for himself. Below are comments found on the internet by the infamous, “Ass of the LCMS”, Rev. Paul T. McCain. I present them as evidence that this obnoxious, rude, condescending jackass-excuse of a clergyman has no business whatsoever being in a place of leadership nor holding the title of “pastor” in the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod.

  9. All the liberty in the world, Rights guaranteed, but everyplace is designated a gun-free zone. Hmmmm, what’s wrong with this picture? Can’t be both. We either have the Constitutional Right or we don’t, which is it?

  10. While waiting for the hearing, he needs to FOIA police record data for crime statistics (by category) specific to the zoo and it’s property. It would be interesting to see the amount of crime, minor and violent, reported at the zoo over the last 10 years or so.
    This could also be useful at the hearing.

  11. FWIW I think while the Zoo is going to cause themselves more trouble than it was clearly worth for themselves I do think they could qualify as an amusement park. They have a carousel, “4d” motion simulator ride, and train ride. I don’t know how many attractions you need to qualify as an amusement park but that is probably enough.

    That being said, if OC is in fact not prohibited at amusement parks by law then they will be getting a big dose of that.

    FWIW I just CC’d there the other day

  12. the stl amusement park claims it is also an 90 area edeucational institution why do we alow beer to be sold around children this does not sound leagle to me

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