Gun supporters protest Richmond library rule with "open-carry" read-in

Published: Aug. 16, 2012 at 2:48 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 21, 2012 at 2:50 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Richmond Public Library was inundated with guests carrying guns Wednesday evening. You could call it a silent protest (in a library, it'd have to be).

The read-in protest was against one of the rules recently changed on the library's website. The rule reads, "Carrying concealed weapons is prohibited, except as permitted by law." In the Richmond Public Library, it is legal to openly carry a gun without a permit, or to carry one concealed with a permit.

Gun supporters say that the wording of the rule is confusing and discourages people from exercising their 2nd Amendment right to carry a firearm, even in a quiet place like the library. More than two dozen people, like Samantha Downing, opened books while openly carrying guns.

"I'd really like to bring awareness to the fact that it is perfectly legal to carry in places like the library," said Downing.

Library and city officials say they agree. A spokesperson for the Richmond mayor's office says they don't believe the wording is confusing. The administration says the rule simply states what the law is.

"We think that it's one of the ways that we show that we're complying with the law, in everything that we do, in our policies," said Liz Triplett, acting director of the Richmond Public Library.

However, the president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, Philip Van Cleave, says the rule unfairly targets gun laws.

"What if they had a rule that said, "African Americans aren't allowed in the library, except as allowed by law?' That would not be a good thing. People would protest that," said Van Cleave. "Why aren't they stating the law about everything else…There are all kinds of laws they could state."

"I think it goes back to creating that inviting and safe place, and making sure our patrons are confident that that's what we're trying to do," said Triplett.

The pro-gun supporters say they would like the rule removed from the website. Richmond City officials say the statement has been vetted by their attorneys.

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