Gun-rights groups oppose city proposal


lukem

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Council may lobby state to add parks to places where guns are prohibited.

Gun-rights groups are criticizing a city proposal to support legislation that would ban concealed weapons from city parks and sporting fields.
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The state's concealed carry law prohibits guns in schools, government meetings or major sports stadiums that hold 5,000 fans. But it doesn't ban them in parks.

"Our concern is that these (parks) are areas where children gather and families," said Jodie Adams, director of the Springfield-Greene County Parks Department.

The City Council may actively work to ban guns from parks if it adopts a list of legislative priorities laid out Oct. 7 by its finance and administration committee. The list details what the council wants city lobbyists to push state lawmakers for in the coming year.

On Oct. 8, gun groups statewide started making plans to rally against the proposal at a future council meeting.

"We're going to show up and tell people if you're going to vote against Second Amendment rights ... and leave us at the mercy of the criminals, we're going to vote you out of office," said Zachary Bauer, founder of MissouriCarry.com, a communication hub for state gun groups.

Not all council members supported the legislative priority. Councilman Doug Burlison voted against it.
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"You're placing obstacles in front of people that prevent them from adequately protecting themselves," he said.

Law enforcement agencies say they haven't experienced any problems with concealed carry holders in city parks or sports facilities. However, they said they would support the measure as preventative.

"Parks are such a place of public access here," said Police Chief Lynn Rowe. "The more guns we introduce into any environment, the potential for risk is there, so I think that's what they're trying to do."

The park board, meanwhile, voted Friday to urge the council to support adding parks to no-gun areas under state law. Board member Howard Garrett said he's most concerned that not modifying the law would open parks located next to schools to firearms.

Other board members raised other concerns, such as insurance coverage if guns are permitted in parks.

Not being able to prohibit firearms in parks facilities could affect efforts to attract major events, Adams said.

Still, gun-rights activists say there is no reason to restrict parks without evidence of a problem.

"They're desperately looking for a solution for which there is no problem," said Kevin Jamison, an attorney and president of Missourians for Public Safety. "Why they want to waste their time like that is a mystery to me."

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