Garfield library board takes up gun policy
The Garfield County Public Library District board will review its policy on guns on library premises to make sure it complies with the state’s concealed-carry laws, acting on a recommendation from the state library association.
The board that oversees the county’s six-branch library system will consider a policy at a meeting Thursday in Carbondale that would allow people holding a valid concealed-carry permit to bring a gun into a library.
The same policy revision would clarify that the open carrying of firearms into libraries is prohibited, however, said Amelia Shelley, executive director for the library district.
Currently, the district’s policy says that weapons are not allowed, “except as expressly permitted by state law,” which includes both licensed concealed carry and open carry, in addition to police officers or hired security guards.
An incident last summer in the Clearview Library District in Weld County where a patron, who had a concealed-carry permit, was confronted and told to take her gun to her car before she would be allowed back in set off a legal firestorm.
The Windsor-based Rocky Mountain Gun Owners threatened legal action and demanded the library district change its policy to allow the carrying of legally concealed weapons, which it ultimately did.
State law does allow holders of concealed-carry permits to possess guns in public places. That includes libraries, Shelley said.
The Clearview incident, and an earlier move by the Boulder public library system in 2012 to change its policy to allow for concealed-carry, prompted the state library association to recommend all public libraries in the state review their policies, Shelley said.
“To be honest, this has not been an issue in any of our buildings, but we do have to be proactive on this,” Shelley said. “It’s not that we want to allow guns, but we have to comply with state law.”
She did note that K-12 schools in Colorado are protected in prohibiting guns on campus, including legally concealed weapons except those carried by law enforcement or security officers.
The Carbondale Branch Library shares a parking lot with Bridges High School, so signs may be needed there to clarify that concealed weapons must remain inside a private vehicle, Shelley said.
Colleges are not protected when it comes to concealed-carry laws, however. So the situation at the Glenwood Springs Library, which shares space with Colorado Mountain College, would not be an issue, she said.
According to the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, there are now about 1,500 active concealed carry permits in the county, while another nearly 800 are up for renewal. Concealed carry permits became legal in Colorado in 2003.
The Garfield County Public Library Board meets at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Carbondale Branch Library. Those who plan to attend are asked to use the west entrance, as the main entrance will be closed.
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