Ever since Missourians voted last year to insert a gun-rights declaration into the state constitution, people on both sides of the issue have known it might spawn a legal showdown over local weapons restrictions. No one guessed that showdown would take place among the giraffes and orangutans at the St. Louis Zoo, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The zoo won a temporary restraining order Friday preventing Ohio gun-rights activist Jeffry Smith from carrying out his announced plan of entering the zoo with a gun until a court hearing next week.
Depending on what the court does, and how much further up the judicial ladder it goes, the case could address a lingering question under Amendment 5, guaranteeing an “unalienable” right to bear arms in the state: Does that guarantee mean that public institutions, like the zoo, can't ban guns within their grounds? Smith, 56, of the Cincinnati area, argues that the zoo is justifying its weapons ban with parts of state law that don't apply to it, such as an exemption for amusement parks. He says Amendment 5 gives the zoo no choice but to allow patrons to enter with open-carry guns on their hips. The city’s lawyer says that, “With all of its unanticipated consequences and poor drafting, Amendment 5 has made a dangerous zoo of the state's gun laws. We hope the courts will see the reality of how these laws impact our families.”