The Illinois state legislature held a special session last week to override Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s recent veto of the Firearm Concealed Carry Act, enacting the bill into law. The law generally allows individuals who receive a new state license to carry a concealed firearm. This law has sweeping implications for gun rights across Illinois and creates a number of concrete changes that will directly affect employers and the workplace. The following are the answers to six frequently asked questions about the impact of this law on the workplace.
Can I prevent my employees from carrying concealed firearms in the workplace?
If employers wish to prevent the carrying of concealed weapons on their property, the owner of the private real property must post a 4”x 6” sign stating that the concealed carrying of firearms is prohibited; without a sign, it is presumed that individuals can carry a concealed weapon on the property. The signs must be clearly posted at the property’s entrance and must conform to a yet-to-be determined design.
If it is my private property, can I prohibit employees from storing guns in their vehicle parked on my property?
No. Even if employers clearly post the required signs, the law still allows individuals to concealed carry or store a locked firearm that is out of plain sight in a vehicle on the property’s parking lot. Moreover, employers cannot prevent employees from carrying concealed firearms in a company vehicle or during the scope of employment that falls outside of the employer’s privately owned real property.
Are there locations that individuals cannot carry a concealed firearm?
Yes. The law lists over twenty-three locations where individuals cannot carry concealed firearms. The list includes: pre, elementary, or secondary schools; buildings under the control of local units of government; hospitals; establishments that earn more than 50% of their gross receipts from alcohol; areas of public gathering that require a government permit; and public or private community colleges, colleges, and universities. Even in these areas, moreover, the law includes the parking lot exception described above, unless otherwise prohibited by federal law. Employers should keep in mind the list of excluded areas if they allow employees to carry concealed weapons on the job and do business off-site in an excluded area.
When does this law go into effect and can people concealed carry immediately?
The law went into effect upon being enacted. However, it will likely be months before the first concealed carry licenses are issued, as the Department of State Police has up to 180 days to create the application and the licensing board has 90 days to act on a submitted application. This delay means that no employee currently has a license to carry a concealed weapon under this law and out-of-state concealed carry licenses are not a permitted form of license under this law. Carrying a concealed firearm without this new license violates the law.
The prosecutors in at least 14 counties, however, have stated that they will not enforce the current law prohibiting the concealed carrying of firearms. Individuals in those counties with a state firearm owner’s card, while technically in violation of the law, will not face local prosecution for the concealed carrying of their firearms. The current list of reported counties includes: Clinton, Edwards, Logan, Macon, Madison, Marshall, Peoria, Piatt, Randolph, Shelby, Stark, Tazewell, White, and Woodford. Employers in one of these counties should be aware that individuals may start concealed carrying immediately and should, if desired, post the required signs stating that the carrying of concealed firearms is prohibited on the premises.
Can local governments take action to restrict the right to carry concealed firearms?
No. Local governments are strictly prohibited from passing ordinances or regulations that preempt the protections of the law. Further, any existing regulation that local governments have in place on licensees or handguns that conflict with the law are now invalidated. As further explained in our FR Alert, the law does provide colleges and universities with some flexibility to create rules relating to firearms.
What steps should I take immediately?
While it will still be some time before concealed carry firearm licenses are issued, it is essential for employers that do not wish to allow employees or members of the public to carry concealed firearms on their premises to post clearly visible signs at all of its main entrances. As an extra precaution, it is recommended that employers also implement and distribute policies that reiterate the prohibition of concealed firearms on private workplace property.
*Kent Sparks is currently a law student at the Michigan State University College of Law and is a Franczek Radelet LEADS Fellow.