HOUSTON (FOX 26) - The Houston Zoo doesn't want firearms on its property, legal or otherwise and plenty of folks in gun-friendly Texas fully agree.
"I don't think it's necessary. There are too many kids that come through here. Too many things that can go wrong," said Annika Butler as she pushed a stroller toward the zoo.
"You have children around and if there is not proper control over how everything is handled I don't think that is a very good idea," said zoo patron Sadi Alkhatib.
"I don't think a gun has a place in a zoo. I don't think a gun has a place in a school," said zoo visitor Nicholas Reagan.
And that's precisely the argument the Houston Zoo has adopted.
"Given the mission of the Zoo and the presence of hundreds of thousands of children on its campus, it is clear that guns and zoos simply do not mix. Simply put, the Houston Zoo is an educational institution," said Lee Ehmke, Houston Zoo President and CEO in a prepared statement.
Last year state lawmakers made schools one of the few locations the roughly 900,000 Texas licensees were prohibited from legally carrying their weapons.
"It is simply an emotional argument, not based on any reason," said Edwin Walker, an attorney who advocates for gun rights in Texas.
"There's no way the Houston Zoo meets any of the elements or any of the requirements of the definition of educational institution through any of the Texas statutes and codes," he added.
FOX 26 legal analyst Chris Tritico says the zoo's attempt to ban guns by defining itself as an extension of Texas schools may fall short.
"In that case then, every place that school children go could arguably say we are now an educational facility. Some school districts take their kids on field trips to the mall, does that make the mall an educational facility?", said Tritico.
This all makes the Houston Zoo a sort of legal "no man's land" for concealed carry license holders.
Walker says until a court or the Legislature declares the zoo an educational institution he believes license holders are within their legal rights to bring their weapon when they visit the animals.