St. Louis Zoo gun ban to stay in place, judge rules

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ST. LOUIS – A St. Louis Circuit Court judge has ruled the city zoo meets the state criteria to call itself a “gun-free zone” after a guns rights activist from Ohio brought the matter to court.

Judge Joan Moriarty determined the zoo to be both an educational facility and a gated amusement park.

The zoo issued a temporary gun ban in 2015.

Two summers ago, Sam Peyton walked around the zoo with an empty holster because he couldn't bring a gun onto the premises. Peyton said he was told to leave by zoo security so he contacted his friend, gun rights activist Jeff Smith, who brought the open-carry issue to court.

“(The judge) is reaching a whole lot. I think she's not taking into consideration the definition of amusement park. She says, 'Oh, it's a zoo, kids will be here; no guns,'" Peyton said.

Smith, a Cincinnati resident, claimed a 2014 amendment to the Missouri Constitution (the “open-carry” law) allowed gun owners the right to bring their firearms to the zoo.

The zoo released the following statement Monday afternoon:

"We are pleased that the judge granted our motion for summary judgment. In support of its family-friendly environment and its mission of conservation, education and recreation, the Saint Louis Zoo will continue its current policy of prohibiting weapons from being carried by visitors on to its premises."

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