County government sets concealed carry rules for employees

WOODSTOCK – The health department commissar checking to make sure the hand-washing stations at your church potluck are set up properly won’t be packing heat.

In the wake of concealed carry taking effect in the coming months, the McHenry County Board is setting down rules forbidding employees who are not law enforcement from carrying handguns during their official duties.

Under the proposed rules, county employees and volunteers will not be able to carry concealed weapons while on the clock, store them in county-owned vehicles or use their private vehicles for county business if they contain firearms.

The law already forbids carrying a concealed weapon into government buildings.

The Management Services Committee is expected to review the rules Monday and make a recommendation, which will be voted on later by the full County Board.

The Illinois State Police will start to accept applications for concealed-carry permits Jan. 5.

A 2012 federal appeals court ruling struck down Illinois’ total ban on concealed carry, the last statewide ban of its kind among the 50 states. A 69-year-old downstate woman who owned handguns and had concealed-carry permits from two other states sued to overturn the ban after being brutally attacked in her church during a 2009 robbery – her weapons were at home because it was illegal to carry them outside.

State lawmakers earlier this year hashed out rules for carrying a concealed weapon, and overrode an amendatory veto by Gov. Pat Quinn with hours to spare before the ban was set to expire under court order.

The law allows Illinois residents to obtain a five-year concealed-carry permit for a $150 fee after completing a 16-hour training course, the longest of any state. Nonresidents must pay a $300 fee for a permit. Illinois does not recognize concealed-carry permits from other states, although the new law allows nonresidents passing through to keep their weapons in their cars.

Besides government facilities and courthouses, carrying is forbidden in parks and festivals, mass transit, schools and colleges, hospitals, stadiums, bars, and dining establishments that make more than half of their revenue from alcohol sales.

Business owners can ban concealed weapons from their properties, but must place a sign designed by the state police at the entrance. However, the law allows people to store their weapons in their locked vehicles in parking lots where carrying is banned by law or by the establishment owner.

State lawmakers Tuesday passed a trailer bill cleaning up some of the language of the law and clarifying some gray areas.

Besides sheriff’s deputies and correctional officers, the county’s deputy coroners can carry handguns in specific instances at the sole discretion of the elected coroner. Deputy coroners asked to be able to make that decision themselves during negotiations for their first union contract, but a state arbitrator last year sided with the county and denied the request.


On the Net

You can learn more about the Illinois concealed-carry law and find a list of qualified instructors at the Illinois State Police website, www.isp.state.il.us/firearms/ccw.

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