Clearview Library District and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners find resolution on disputed library policy
September 3, 2014
A potential legal dispute resulting from a Clearview Library District employee asking a gun owner to leave the library because she had a concealed weapon came to a peaceful resolution Friday.
An attorney for Erika Sattler and the Windsor-based gun lobby Rocky Mountain Gun Owners sent a cease and desist letter Aug. 22 to the library district in response to Sattler being asked to leave Aug. 20 after another patron noticed she had a concealed handgun with her at the library.
The library district board of directors took public comment about the issue at its meeting Thursday, but did not discuss the policy or take action because it was not on the agenda. Instead they said they would review the policy at their September meeting.
The library district’s attorney “is talking to RMGO’s attorney and of course we are going to abide by the laws of Colorado,” Ann Kling, library district director, said Friday. “It is the law that you can have concealed carry.” At its Sept. 25 meeting, the library district board will discuss the rest of its weapons policy, she said.
Clearview Library District’s Board counsel contacted the gun lobby via email Friday and indicated to its attorney that the library will change their “no firearms” policy and signage to comply with Colorado state law “as we originally demanded,” said Danielle Thompson, RMGO spokeswoman.That means the organization will take no legal action, unless the library district does not go through with the changes, she said
“We’re happy the Clearview Library decided to comply with state law, and allow citizens the tools of self-defense,” Dudley Brown, RMGO executive director, said.
Previously Brown said if the library district did not contact RMGO by Friday to indicate an intent to change its policy, RMGO would pursue legal action to force the change.
Sattler, a member of the gun lobby, said she has had her concealed carry permit “for a long time,” and had not encountered similar problems before.
When the library staff asked her to leave, she said, she “was totally shocked, because that’s not OK.” When asked if she had carried a concealed handgun in the library before, she said she does not “leave the house without it.”
Sattler said she feels she has “a responsibility” to carry her concealed weapon.
“The library is not charged with taking care (of) protecting my children, I am. I’m their parent,” she said. “I’m not particularly responsible for how other people feel. But I don’t think they’re concerned about how I feel about not being able to protect my children and asked to leave the library.”
About half a dozen members of the Windsor-based gun lobby, including Erika Sattler, attended Thursday’s meeting to protest the weapons policy they say is illegal.
Six people spoke up during public comment, four encouraging the district to keep its policy if possible, and Sattler and Dudley Brown, RMGO executive director, explained their views on the matter.
During public comment Susan Carey, Windsor resident, said a lot of people in Windsor respect and value the library’s policy the way it is. “If at all possible,” she said, “please don’t change your position. Keep some of our public places sacred and keep them no guns.”
“The law is clear,” Brown said. “We don’t have any choice. If the board doesn’t change the policy, we have to seek legal remedies because that’s what we do. We represent gun owners.”
Brown said the library can prohibit open carrying of weapons but has no legal right to stop people from legally carrying a concealed weapon with a permit, adding that he confirmed that with the county sheriff and district attorney.
Since the organization publicized the Clearview Library District’s policy and the incident with Sattler, RMGO has heard from hundreds of members claiming public facilities across Colorado have treated them similarly, Thompson, said previously.
“We expect this case to serve as precedence across the state that we will seek action when gun owners are unjustly discriminated against,” she said.
In the past, Brown has attended functions at the library and carried a concealed weapon, which “(is) not something that these people should be worried about anyway,” he said.
Brown said the library should worry about creating a zone where no law-abiding citizen can carry a weapon and only criminals have weapons.
“RMGO encourages its members and supporters to continue to lawfully carry their firearms at libraries in Colorado, disregarding any unlawful policy prohibiting the right to conceal carry,” he said. “We firmly believe library patrons, exercising their inalienable right to protect themselves, are not disruptive to the library environment.”
The High Plains Library District, which serves Greeley and much of Weld County, has recently revisited its policy governing the carrying of firearms, Executive Director Janine Reid said.
Under the existing policy, weapons are not allowed in libraries. However, the draft policy the library board will consider when it can next do business will change that, Reid said.
The draft policy would bring the library’s policy in line with state statutes, which allow carrying firearms in public places, Reid said.
The policy would instruct library staff that see a weapon to notify a supervisor, who would assess the situation and, if necessary, call the police.