CRYSTAL LAKE – Loaded guns will now be allowed to be securely stored in vehicles on any McHenry County College parking lot after the board of trustees lifted restrictions it once considered.
The initial proposal called for “safe harbors” in Lot C and Lot D near the child day care center, prohibiting any vehicle with a firearm from parking in those spaces. But some trustees were concerned with late-arriving students needing to scramble for a spot or needing to park off campus.
Trustee Linda Liddell said the college should simplify the policy to make it easily understandable for all students and staff.
“I really think that limiting it from two parking lot facilities is too hard to police and too hard to manage,” Liddell said. “I think it has to be one consistent policy that goes for the entire campus.”
Restricting Lots C and D would have taken away roughly 20 percent of the college’s parking spaces for those with guns in their vehicles.
Under the concealed-carry law passed by the Illinois Legislature over the summer, all firearms are banned on college campuses. But lawmakers also gave authority to individual colleges to draft policies on concealed carry in college-issued vehicles; establishing “safe harbor” parking lots; disciplining violators of the law; and reporting methods for students presenting a “clear and present” danger.
The law took effect Jan. 1, but the state does not expect to start issuing permits until April.
Trustees had also planned to require all firearms in vehicles to be unloaded, but a closer reading of the law showed that was not required so they decided to lift that restriction as long as the loaded firearm is locked in a gun console or glove compartment.
Restrictions on firearms in college-issued vehicles remain, meaning staff and student-athletes would not be able to carry while traveling for college functions or competitions.
Trustee Chris Jenner remained opposed to the policy, saying the law is a bad one and the college should inform associations that represent colleges to push for reform. He argued those with permits to carry should be able to carry.
“Does anyone really believe a gun-free zone really reduces or prevents violence?” Jenner asked. “I don’t want to embrace the law, but it is what it is.”