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Open Carry Activist's Protest Shot Down By St. Louis Zoo

By Jim Bochnowski in News on Jun 12, 2015 9:35PM

Photo: Shutterstock
In another instance of "second amendment activism" gone rogue, the St. Louis Zoo has been granted a restraining order against a man who expressed his intent to lead a march of gun toting protesters into the park.

The man, Jeffrey Smith, who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio (which is nowhere near St. Louis) told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on June 8 that he was planning on traveling to the St. Louis Zoo to lead a protest against the "zoo's attempt to reinforce their biases and to deceive people into not exercising their rights." A Facebook event for the protest had 58 confirmed attendants as of the writing of this post.

The zoo bans guns under Missouri state statute 571.107, which prohibits individuals from carrying guns in certain public places, including school facilities and amusement parks.

Smith told the Post-Dispatch that the protest stemmed from an incident on May 25 when his friend, Sam Peyton, were hassled by zoo staff about an empty gun holster. Peyton said he went to the zoo and asked a security guard about their policy banning guns from the park. The guard then noticed his empty holster, questioned him about whether or not he was armed, and asked him to leave.

After learning of Smith's plan, the zoo petitioned Circuit Judge Joan Moriarty for a restraining order against him, according to the Post-Dispatch. The zoo's filing describes the park as a place that "utilizes the entire 90-acre campus of St. Louis Zoo as its classroom" and features numerous "amusement rides/attractions" like a carousel and miniature railroad. The restraining order lasts until June 22.

Smith told the Post-Dispatch that he would still come to the area, but would not defy the judge's order. Additionally, he said he considers the incident "a win." "It's a win in that they have finally shown their hand," said Smith.