The Newcomerstown Public Library Board of Trustees approved a Possession of Weapons policy change and all documentation addressing the possession of weapons during a special meeting Wednesday at the library.

The vote allows certain individuals with permission from the board of trustees to carry a concealed weapon while on library grounds in order to address safety concerns. Open carry of weapons is prohibited.

"All board members were present and voted yes for a unanimous vote," said Director Cody Addy. "The public is aware we just want to make sure another level of safety is in place at the library."

The board of trustees and Addy had been in discussions for more than a year prior the vote with the director seeking input from other libraries, legal advisers, law enforcement, library council affiliates, staff, patrons, educators and school administrators, and current and former military members, just to name a few.

The library board also accepted public input prior to the vote this week.

"Over 90 percent of the feedback we received was positive feedback," said Addy. "The decision has not been taken lightly. This is not out of fear; it is being proactive to the extreme possible circumstances these situations cause.

"I anticipate never having to pull a trigger or show a gun for that matter, but I would rather be prepared than unprepared. We want to be proactive instead of reactive," Addy added.

Employees that meet specific regulations will have the option, with board approval, to carry a concealed weapon on library grounds, according to the new policy. The regulations require extensive training in addition to obtaining a concealed carry license.

"The next step is to start the training," said Addy. "This will be open to select individuals who are willing to do this. Those interested will have to come to me. I will never force anybody to carry a gun. And, we will make sure any individual who is going to be approved, has the proper training."

The training will include the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy and a Concealed Carry Permit, as well as other training providers, per Addy.

Employees granted permission to carry a concealed weapon must identify the firearm, dangerous weapon or stun gun they intend to carry.

The policy defines a weapon as a firearm, dangerous weapons, stun gun, and/or any other object whose purpose or use is to inflict physical harm to another individual. A dangerous weapon is defined as a handgun, rifle, knife with a blade over three inches and any other object with a purpose of inflicting physical harm to another individual.

The prohibition against carrying a weapon shall not apply to a federal, state or local law enforcement officer who is actively employed by a law enforcement agency or any constitutionally protected activity which cannot be regulated by the state.