Concealed Handguns Now Allowed At Museum of Nature & Science

Photo: Outside The Denver Museum Of Nature And Science 2015
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

The board made the change in November. Openly carrying firearms is still prohibited at the museum.

"We are complying with the (state) law, and the law allows permit holders to bring their weapons to public places, including cultural institutions," vice president of finance and business operations Ed Scholz said.

Other major cultural institutions, including the Denver Zoo and the Denver Art Museum, already allow permit holders to carry concealed weapons. Others, including the Children's Museum of Denver, only permit law enforcement to carry guns on the premises.

DMNS officials worked with the Denver Police Department, security advisers and other cultural institutions to adapt the museum's safety measures. Scholz says that recent mass shootings like the one in Paris and the busy holiday season did factor into the decision.

"We feel really comfortable that our guests and our staff are safe, it’s our number one priority," he said. "We are not allowing anybody to bring a gun into the museum, that’s not what this is about. This is about law abiding, concealed weapon permit holders who are allowed to bring their guns into public places according to the law."

Outside the museum on Tuesday, Art Gregory of Parker, Colo., said the new policy makes him and his family feel less safe.

"We feel with all the gun violence that’s been out there, having additional guns all over the place… seems like that allows the situation to escalate," the father said. "You don’t need to bring guns to a museum."

While visiting the museum with her two sons, Castle Rock resident Iris Gavin said she has no issue with the policy if people carrying concealed guns are properly trained.

"If people have all of those things in order and they have their concealed weapons permit and know how to use them, I think they should be able to bring their concealed guns into places," she said. "We all have to live in this world, I wouldn’t stay home over it."

While the previous DMNS policy denied most permit holders from carrying concealed weapons in the building, the museum did grant access to some on a case by case basis.

"The policy said any concealed weapons permit holder could contact our security captain if they felt a need to bring their weapon on site," Scholz said. "And we’d make exceptions every once in a while for people like former law enforcement."

A spokesperson for Denver Arts & Venues, the agency which oversees DMNS, said the city does not have a say over the concealed carry policy at the museum.

Colorado law only prohibits the carry of concealed handguns with a permit in public buildings where security and screening devices are permanently in place to prevent admittance with weapons.

"We’ve always reserved the right to check bags coming in, and we will continue to do so," DMNS spokesperson Maura O'Neil said. "Logistically speaking, there are no changes necessary."