It's now illegal to openly carry a firearm in Lake Ozark even if the individual carrying the gun has a conceal and carry permit.

It’s now illegal to openly carry a firearm in Lake Ozark even if the individual carrying the gun has a conceal and carry permit.

After a lengthy discussion Tuesday night that included input from several members of the audience, the board of aldermen voted 4-2 to adopt an ordinance that prohibits anyone from carrying any type of firearm in the open. The decision does not impact a person’s right to carry a concealed weapon if they have an authorized permit.

Second reading and final approval of the ordinance came several weeks after the board passed the first reading in May, giving the public and aldermen a chance to consider the ramifications.

Voting in favor of the ordinance were Aldermen Larry Buschjost, Pat Thompson, Judy Neels and Tony Otto. Voting against were Aldermen Gerry Murawski and Betsey Browning.

After the meeting, Browning told the media she was “extremely disappointed in the board.”

“I don’t feel we should be messing with the Second Amendment,” she said during the meeting. “I don’t feel good about it.”

Browning said she had thought about the issue at length, and had talked with business owners, bar owners and citizens before making her decision.

“It confirms what I feel, and I promise I’ve thought and thought on every side of this,” she said.

Browning suggested that businesses who don’t want people carrying a weapon into their store ― openly or concealed ― should post a notice that ‘no weapons are allowed on this property.’

“If a T-shirt shop or bar or any business doesn’t feel safe having people in their business with a weapon, they can post a notice,” she said.

“There are bad people in the world, and by golly if I need a gun I’m going to have a firearm at my side or in my purse. I’m absolutely against this,” Browning further explained.

Her feelings reflected the opinions of two people in the audience who spoke during the Public Comment portion of the meeting. Of the four who addressed the board, two favored the ordinance and two were opposed.

“It’s a violation of my Second Amendment rights,” Gail Maeder said. “Just because somebody felt scared is not a good enough reason to pass an ordinance that violates the Second Amendment. People don’t understand the Constitution, and it’s very important to me that my kids and grandkids have the same rights that I do.”

Bob Dolvin agreed.

“I’d like to remind the board that you can say you’re for the Constitution and believe in the Constitution, but the drafters made very certain in the Second Amendment that our rights should not be infringed,” he said. “I don’t know how much clearer they could have made it. It’s my right as a U.S. citizen to carry a weapon if I so choose, and I wish you’d respect that.”

Gail Friebus and Art Sergeant urged the board to take a more “common sense” approach.

“I’m in favor of the ordinance,” Friebus said. “I’m a typical resident who believes in the Second Amendment, but who also believes in common sense.”

She told the board prior to the approvel of the ordinance she fears more and more individuals will begin openly displaying firearms in stores and scaring customers and business owners.

“I won’t know if that person has gone through the proper background checks or training, and I won’t know if maybe that person is a bad guy and had a bad day,” she said. “Based on past events I’d have to assume it’s a bad person and up to no good. I won’t patronize any business that allows open carry in Lake Ozark or anywhere.”

Sergeant agreed.

“I’m a firm believer in the Second Amendment, but I think someplace along the line common sense has disappeared,” he told the board. “It worries me that an advocate of open carry walks into a facility and encounters somebody who’s an advocate of conceal and carry. These people are going to encounter each other and what do you think is going to happen? There’s going to be a shootout.”

Aldermen responses

Mayor Johnnie Franzeskos, before asking for a vote on the ordinance, asked each alderman for input. But before each began, City Attorney Roger Gibbons offered his perspective, saying “how is this not good government if the ordinance is passed?”

A Missouri law on the books for more than 30 years allows cities to regulate the open carry and discharge of firearms within jurisdictions, he explained.

The legislature this year passed SB 656 that, if signed by Governor Nixon, would amend the laws pertaining to firearms in Missouri. SB 656 provides that no municipality shall create an ordinance that prohibits the open carrying of firearms “for any person with a valid concealed carry endorsement who presents such endorsement or permit upon the demand of a law enforcement officer.”

The bill would also eliminate any current municipal ordinance denying open carry to people with the proper permits.

It ensures that people who open carry must have been through a conceal and carry course, Gibbons said.

“You have a right to conceal and carry, which is your right under the Second Amendment, and there has to be some common sense legislation regulations put on it,” Gibbons said. “I think the [Lake Ozark Police Chief Mark Maples] had a legitimate concern.”

Aldermen responses included:

•Judy Neels: “I don’t know why a person feels the need to carry a weapon outwardly on their body. They can have a concealed weapon. You’re afraid, so you must have a gun on you, but the family next to you may not feel the same? What about the people around you who are in fear because you have a gun? I’m not saying you can’t carry a gun, but does it need to be strapped on in front of you and everybody to see? I care about our visitors and tourists, and what is that saying to people who come to the area? They can shop someplace else and feel safe, but they come to Lake Ozark where everybody they see has a gun strapped to them?”

Larry Buschjost: “We’ve had a tough time over the years promoting Lake Ozark as a family area. We want you on the Strip with families, everywhere in Lake Ozark with families. We want you to bring your kids down here and let them loose. For the life of me, I don’t understand why I would have to carry any type of gun concealed or otherwise. I know how people react with guns, and sometimes they’re really stupid. What’s the need? How to you square dance with a shotgun on your side: How do you dance with your wife with a gun?”

The issue

Lake Ozark Police Chief Mark Maples initiated the ordinance. He asked the board several weeks ago to consider prohibiting the open carrying of firearms in public in response to concerns shared by residents and business owners.

City Attorney Roger Gibbons drafted the ordinance which:

•Makes it unlawful for a person to open carry a firearm in public readily capable of lethal use. Public place is defined as any indoor or outdoor area whether privately or publicly owned to which the public has access.

•Exempts state, county and municipal peace officers who have completed property training; wardens, superintendents or keepers of a prison or jail; members of the Armed Forces or National Guard; security officers who have completed proper training; and others in emergency, legal or law enforcement positions who have completed proper training.

•Does not apply to persons engaged in a lawful act of self defense.

•Exempts students in gun safety courses, ROTC instruction or other school-sponsored or club-sponsored firearm training courses.

Immediate reaction

Raymond Fuller, who says he’s a resident of the United States of America, was the first to formally protest Lake Ozark’s decision to make it unlawful to open carry a firearm in public. He placed several small American flags and one large flag on city right-of-way across from Lake Ozark city hall Wednesday morning.

He also carried a sign that said “2nd Amendment Shall Not Be Infringed.” Another sign nearby said, “Tyranny Begins Here.”

“I took an oath 45 years ago. I raised my hand and swore to defend the Constitution and the United States,” he veteran said. “I take that very seriously. I’m 63. I don’t think the Second Amendment should be infringed. I don't believe the city of Lake Ozark has the right or obligation to amend the Second Amendment, and I just wanted to make my feelings known.”