Nevada's liberal laws regarding guns and other weapons no longer apply at the Carson City Library.
The library has posted a bold, 24-by-18-inch sign at the front door announcing that "No weapons are allowed in the Library." The "no" is underlined.
Library board members adopted a weapons policy a month ago to give assurances that the library is a safe place. Instead, Library Director Sally Edwards has already fielded some 15 comments about the prominent signs - none favorable.
"People didn't like it," Edwards said. "Blatant, overkill and paranoid were words that people used. The board's intentions were the best. We certainly didn't want to upset people."
Edwards will report the criticisms at the next board meeting. She said the size of the sign was repeatedly criticized in the patron comments.
Barney Dehl, who joined the library board a month ago, proposed the weapons ban.
"I don't think you can read your paper any day that it doesn't talk about weapons in public buildings and schools," said Dehl, retired chief of the Nevada Highway Patrol. "It seemed logical to prohibit them in the library."
The 1995 Legislature passed a law prohibiting firearms in public buildings that have signs posted not allowing firearms. The library board extended that to any "dangerous weapons and bombs."
"It's meant to restrict all kinds of weapons," Dehl said. "This is not a place for weapons."
Edwards said the weapons policy came as a reaction to high-profile weapons incidents across the country in recent years rather than any problems at the Carson City Library.
"We have never had any incidents at the library involving weapons," said Edwards, who has been the library's director since 1987.
The weapons on library premises policy reads as follows:
"Except for weapons carried by active or honorably retired Nevada Peace Officers, firearms and other dangerous weapons or bombs are not allowed on the library premises unless written permission has been given by the library director."
Others with concealed weapon permits who may take weapons into the library are prosecuting attorneys and library employees, according to state law.
A second clause in the policy directs the library director to post a sign at each public entrance indicating that no weapons are allowed in the library.
A library employee who sees someone bearing a weapon on the library premises may ask the patron to leave. If the patron does not leave, the employee may call the sheriff's department to have the patron arrested, said Supervising District Attorney Melanie Bruketta.
A person carrying a concealed weapon could be prosecuted for a misdemeanor. Since Nevada law allows people to wear sidearms in most circumstances, legal interpretation of the library's policy is less clear if a patron's weapon is clearly visible, Bruketta said.
"Potentially, they could be guilty of misdemeanor trespassing," Bruketta said.