As explained more fully in a recent FR Alert, Illinois recently enacted the Firearm Concealed Carry Act (Public Act 098-0063), a law that permits licensed individuals to carry a concealed firearm in certain circumstances. However, public and private community colleges, colleges, and universities are still off-limits for individuals carrying concealed firearms.
While many property owners will be required to post signs in order to prevent the carrying of concealed weapons on their property, the Act specifies certain categories of places where licensed individuals may not carry a firearm. As further explained in our FR Alert, the prohibition applies to places including, for example, schools, parks, government buildings, hospitals, and public transportation.
Importantly, licensed individuals may not carry firearms into any property that is owned, leased, or controlled by a public or private community college, college or university. This includes many areas that may be frequented by the general public, such as parking lots, sidewalks, common areas, university hospitals, and athletic venues.
While firearms are generally prohibited on-campus, the Act grants colleges and universities some flexibility to create rules relating to firearms. Institutions may permit the carrying or use of firearms for the purpose of instruction and curriculum of officially recognized programs (e.g., law enforcement training), and may designate areas where firearms may be used for hunting or target shooting.
The Act also grants institutions of higher education significant leeway to enact rules further restricting the carrying or use of firearms. Such institutions may (but are not required to): (i) prohibit persons from carrying a firearm within a vehicle owned, leased, or controlled by the institution – even if that vehicle is not located on university property; (ii) develop policies regarding student, employee, or visitor misconduct and discipline; and (iii) develop policies regarding the storage or maintenance of firearms. If an institution chooses to enact a policy regarding the storage and maintenance of firearms, the policy must include designated areas where persons can park vehicles that carry firearms.
While the Firearm Concealed Carry Act does not change the status quo for institutions of higher education, institutions should therefore be prepared to answer questions about the Act’s applicability on-campus in light of the significant attention garnered by this new law. In preparation for such inquiries, institutions would be wise to review existing policies (if any) relating to firearms to ensure compliance with the Act. Even more importantly, institutions may wish to consider enacting policies that specifically address the areas in which the Act authorizes institutions to dictate rules and regulations relating to the carrying and use of firearms.