Open carry ban gets mixed reviews

Lake Ozark has banned openly carrying firearms in public.

Residents were divided Thursday on whether a new open-carry ban infringes on personal rights or improves public safety.

The Lake Ozark Board of Aldermen voted 4-2 this week to bar gun owners from openly carrying firearms in public. The new ordinance does not affect carrying concealed weapons nor does it prevent anyone from openly carrying a firearm on private property.

Dennis Ruby has carried his firearm openly in Lake Ozark for years. He said the new ordinance penalizes responsible gun owners. Ruby said he has always locked up his gun in his glove box any time he entered an area that banned open carry.

â??I donâ??t agree with it because itâ??s infringing on your Second Amendment rights,â?? he said, â??but at the same time, Iâ??m not going to fight the law.â??

Pistols Plus employee Jim Harrison said open carry has always gotten a mixed reception. He said he supports the right to open carry, although he always conceals his firearm.

State law forbids counties and cities from enacting any firearm-related ordinances unless they involve carrying a firearm openly or shooting one. Lake Ozarkâ??s mayor and aldermen did not return calls seeking comment, but the city administrator released a statement saying, â??The intent is to provide an atmosphere of safety for our residents and the many visitors to the lake area.â??

Business owners on the Bagnell Strip said they thought the ban would make families feel more comfortable coming downtown. Linda Barton, who operates Bobâ??s Sunglasses Shop, said the strip has too few attractions for families as it is. Moreover, she said open carry makes her feel uncomfortable.

â??I would freak out if I saw somebody with a gun walk in my shop,â?? she said. â??Thatâ??s ridiculous. It would scare kids, it would scare everybody, I would think.â??

â??People with open guns is not going to invite more families down here,â?? Dreams and Things Boutique owner Terry Hernblom said. â??And we need more families.â??