Earlier this summer, we reported that Illinois enacted the Firearm Concealed Carry Act, which allows individuals with a special permit to carry a concealed firearm in public. The law provides, however, a long list of locations where concealed carry is prohibited. For example, the Concealed Carry law prohibits concealed firearms in many locations including: schools; public or private colleges and universities; public parks and playgrounds; hospitals; stadiums and arenas, establishments that earn more than 50 percent of gross receipts from the sale of alcohol; and buildings controlled by local units of government. In addition, private property owners may elect to prohibit concealed carry on or into property under their control.
What action is necessary to prohibit concealed carry in the workplace?
Private property owners electing to prohibit firearms must post an approved sign at the entrance of their property. The Illinois State Police (ISP) approved a prohibition sign earlier this month.
It is not yet clear if locations at which concealed carry is prohibited under the Concealed Carry law must also post the sign. While it is illegal to knowingly carry a firearm into a prohibited location regardless of whether a sign is posted, workplaces where concealed carry is prohibited may still want to post the ISP-approved sign in order to notify the general public and employees that firearms are prohibited (and to ensure compliance with the Concealed Carry law to the extent it does require all locations to post the sign).
When should the sign be posted?
The Concealed Carry law is currently in effect, so the notice may be posted immediately. We suggest posting the ISP-approved sign as soon as is practicable, but employers may also elect to delay posting until early 2014, when the ISP begins issuing concealed carry permits. It is important to note that until permits are issued, no one without authorization may carry a concealed firearm in public.
Can employers alter the approved sign?
Not at this point. The ISP filed a proposal with the Illinois Secretary of State to allow employers the option to post a larger notice. We expect a hearing on the proposal to take place in December of 2013.
Do I have additional obligations if my workplace is located in Chicago?
You might. A Chicago city council ordinance last month banned concealed carry on the premises of any business serving liquor. The ordinance expands, only in Chicago, locations where concealed firearms are prohibited. The prohibition now includes restaurants, hotel bars, theaters, bowling alleys, and other businesses that serve liquor under a city retail license. If you have such a license, the city ordinance requires the ISP-approved sign to be posted. Non-compliance can result in the loss of the liquor license.
My business does not serve liquor but sells packaged liquor or caters liquor. Do I have to post a notice or prohibit concealed carry?
Perhaps. The city ordinance only applies to businesses that serve liquor. Businesses that hold a packaged good liquor license, e.g., grocery and liquor stores, or a caterer license are exempt from the city ordinance. However, if a business derives more than 50 percent of its gross receipts from the sale of alcohol, the business is a prohibited location under state law. We recommend such businesses consider posting the ISP-approved sign as soon as is practicable (and no later than early 2014) while waiting for further guidance on the matter.
What must I do if my workplace is impacted by the city ordinance but not the state law?
At this time, the city ordinance is in effect so you must post the ISP-approved sign at the entrance of the building, premises, or real property.
We anticipate developments as state lawmakers continue to propose changes to the Concealed Carry law. For now, permit applications will not be available until January 5, 2014, and it may take up to 270 days before a permit is issued. Employers still have time to think about, develop, and refine weapons policies to address the Concealed Carry law. We will keep you updated as more information becomes available.