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What does concealed carry mean for Illinois businesses?

A sign, provided by the Illinois State Police, states that carrying firearms into the building is prohibited.
A sign, provided by the Illinois State Police, states that carrying firearms into the building is prohibited.

The sign on the door of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Woodstock banning concealed weapons inside might prompt a double-take from passers-by unfamiliar with the new Illinois concealed-carry law.

Veterans as a group tend to sit squarely on the side of gun rights. And that sign is pasted just to the left of a flyer advertising gun shows next Monday and March 9.

But state law forbids carrying a concealed weapon in any establishment that generates more than half of its revenue from alcohol sales, and Post 5040 with its downstairs bar falls under the new law.

That doesn’t mean members or civilians showing up for a fish fry have to leave their guns at home. They can drive with them to the VFW and leave them out of sight in their locked cars.

Business owners whose establishments are explicitly off-limits to concealed firearms have discretion as to whether to allow it. The following is a guide for business owners regarding the new law that took effect this year.

How did we get concealed carry?

Lawmakers in 2013 hashed out a compromise bill that would allow it after the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in December 2012 struck down Illinois’ total ban as unconstitutional. A downstate woman who was savagely attacked while working as a church treasurer challenged the ban – she owned handguns and had training but was unarmed because of the law.

Illinois was the only state in the union with a total ban on concealed carry.

What training do people need to obtain a concealed-carry permit?

Illinois’ requirements are among the strictest of the 50 states. Applicants must pay a $150 fee and undergo 16 hours of training, which includes live fire. The license is good for five years, and a three-hour refresher course is required for renewal.

The law also sets up safety checks and balances. Law enforcement can object to a license application if they suspect the applicant is dangerous. The bill also sets up additional reporting requirements for schools and physicians to help keep weapons out of the hands of the mentally unstable.

How many people are going to be carrying?

Permits have only just started to be issued, because applications began to be processed last month. But the Illinois State Police, which issues the permits and Firearm Owners Identification cards, has estimated it could receive 400,000 applications this year.

Can I ban them from my business?

Yes. But you must place a sign at all entrances to your establishment. The state-approved signs consist of a silhouette of a handgun with a red line through it. The sign can be downloaded at www.ccl4illinois.com or can be bought commercially, as long as it matches the state’s design.

Would forbidding my customers from carrying forbid me from doing so?

No. Business owners have discretion as to whether to allow employees to carry. But they still have to undergo the training and get the state permit.

Can I ban guns from my parking lot?

No. People carrying concealed weapons can keep them in their cars if entering an establishment with a ban. The gun must be kept out of sight in a locked car.

Should I review my workplace policies?

Businesses should review their policies and employee guidelines to make sure they do not conflict with the new concealed-carry law.

One of the shortcomings of the law is that state lawmakers did not include a provision to protect businesses from liability in the event something goes awry. But because the law is so new, lawmakers will likely file legislation addressing the issue.


On the Net

Learn about the state concealed-carry law, how to obtain a permit or how to obtain a sign banning firearms from a business on the Illinois State Police website, www.ccl4illinois.com.

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