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Guns, but not dogs, to be allowed in Missouri Capitol

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missourians visiting the state Capitol building in the 2019 session are free to bring their gun but are going to have to leave their pooch at home.

Following a rule implemented by the Missouri House, only service animals will be allowed through the security checkpoints. In the same time frame, the Office of Administration has changed a rule to allow those with concealed carry permits to bring their firearm into the Capitol.

Readers began sharing with the Missouri Times in recent weeks that contrary to past experiences, their dogs were being turned away at the front door security checkpoint.

The new House policy involving dogs in the Capitol building was approved and issued by the House Committee on Administration and Accounts in October. It does not replace any existing policy and applies to the House side of the building.

“The House of Representatives strives to maintain a professional and respectful work environment free from unnecessary distractions or impediments to the completion of work. It is, therefore, the policy of the House to prevent and preclude the presence of animals, fish or aquatic life, and reptiles from within House space, except when wholly contained within a locked and appropriately closed vehicle inside a designated House parking garage space under the care of a Member or staff person…,” the policy reads.

Included are four exceptions to the rule. Pets that are allowed include any service animal authorized in compliance with the American Disabilities Act, any emotional support animal authorized by the committee, any animal present for a House hearing, and any animal authorized in advance by the committee chair for a presentation associated with a specific state park or Department of Conservation open to the entire House.

“At the last Administration and Accounts Committee Meeting on October 22, the Committee voted unanimously to adopt the new pet and animal policy. The new House policy only allows Certified Service Animals to be allowed anywhere on the House side of the Missouri State Capitol Building,” said committee chairman Rep. Glen Kolkmeyer.

The Department of Public Safety, Office of Administration, and the Senate have no policy concerning dogs or pets in the building. OA has jurisdiction over the rotunda, whereas the Senate has jurisdiction over most of the eastern side of the building.

In another rule change available for viewing in the Missouri Review, the Office of Administration has moved to allow those with concealed carry permits to bring their firearms into the Capitol.

The change will be effective on December 30, 2018, and will be in effect for the 2019 General Session.

The updated proposed rule reads, “Carrying a firearm or any other weapon readily capable of lethal use into the Capitol Building and grounds or any other public building or grounds is prohibited, except those holders of a valid concealed carry permit may carry weapons into the Capitol Building and grounds to the extent allowed by sections 571.107 and 571.215, RSMo.”

The issue of guns in the Capitol has been in limbo since former-Gov. Eric Greitens took office in 2017. He prohibited guns in the building, but after an outcry by some lawmakers, Greitens reversed course a month later.

Prior to the rule, visitors were allowed to bring dogs to the Capitol. Several members and staffers brought their companions to the building regularly during session.

All visitors entering the Capitol building still are required to go through metal detectors.