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By: Joseph F. Spitzzeri

On July 9, 2013, the Illinois General Assembly approved Public Act 98-0063 and enacted the Illinois Fire Arm Concealed Carry Act.  The Act went into effect immediately, but provides the State Police with a period of 180 days (January 5, 2014) before concealed carry license applications must be available.

This law will affect all Illinois employers.  The right to prohibit concealed carry is limited to the “owners of private property”.  It is recommended that employers have a written weapons policy in place restricting employees and visitors from carrying firearms in the workplace where the employer’s landowner has restricted their presence.  However, employers who are tenants in buildings in which the landowner has not restricted the use of concealed carry appear to have no rights to do so.  This obviously ties the hands of tenants where the landowner does not prohibit concealed carry.

Under the Act, the term “handgun” is defined to mean any device which is designed to expel a projectile or projectiles by the action of an explosion, expansion of gas, or escape of gas that is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand.  Handguns do not include: 1) a stun gun or taser; 2) a machine gun; 3) a short barreled rifle or shotgun; or, 4) any pneumatic gun, spring gun, paintball gun, or BB gun which expels a single globular projectile not exceeding .18 inch in diameter, or which has a maximum muzzle velocity of less than 700 feet per second, or which expels breakable paintballs containing washable marking colors.

The Department shall issue a license to carry a concealed fire arm to an applicant who: 1) meets the qualifications of the Act (be at least 21 years old and have a currently valid firearm owner’s identification card); 2) has provided the application and documentation required in the Act; 3) has submitted the requisite fees; and, 4) does not pose a danger to himself, herself, or others, or a threat to public safety as determined by the Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board. A license is valid throughout the State for a period of five years from the date of issuance and permits the licensee to: 1) carry a loaded or unloaded concealed firearm, fully concealed or partially concealed, on or about his or her person; and, 2) keep or carry a loaded or unloaded concealed firearm on or about his or her person within a vehicle.

The Act contains a number of specified locations where concealed carry license holders are prohibited from carrying a firearm.  The list of prohibited areas includes:

any buildings/property under the control of a preschool, daycare, elementary school, secondary school, college or university;

the federal, state or local government or the courts;

hospital, mental health facility or nursing home;

establishments where more than 50% of the establishments gross receipts for the prior 3 months are from the sale of alcohol;

public playground, park, or athletic area/facility;

licensed gaming facilities;

professional sports stadium/arena;

airport;

any building or real property that has been issued a special event retailer’s license as defined by the Illinois Liquor Control Act during the time designated for the sale of alcohol by the special event retailer’s license;

any area where firearms are prohibited under federal law; and,

a community park, zoo or museum.

 

Additionally, employers are allowed to prohibit the carrying of firearms on their private property as long as the employer clearly and conspicuously posts a 4 x 6 inch sign, approved by the Illinois State Police (see approved signage), at the entrance of the property/building stating firearms are prohibited on the property.  Employers that own or operate property included on the list of prohibited areas must also post the State Police approved sign regarding the prohibition. However, in our view, it is not enough for companies to simply post this approved signage in their places of business.  They should take the extra step of adopting a formal, written weapons policy restricting employees and visitors from carrying firearms in the workplace.

However, there is a parking lot exception to an employer’s ability to prohibit firearms on its private property, applicable to all employers, including those included on the list of prohibited areas. The Act restricts an employer from prohibiting concealed carry license holders from being able to carry their concealed firearm on their person within a vehicle onto the employer’s parking lot and being able to store their firearm in the vehicle while parked in the employer’s parking lot. The Act also allows the concealed carry licensed holder the ability to carry the concealed firearm in the immediate area surrounding his/her vehicle in the parking lot for the limited purpose of storing or retrieving the firearm within the vehicle’s truck.

The Act prohibits any local governmental entity or municipality from enacting ordinances or regulations that purport to impose restrictions on licensees or handguns and ammunition for handguns in a manner inconsistent with the Act.  The Act is intended to preempt all such ordinances or regulations.  This preemption section calls into question the Chicago City Council’s recent action on September 11, 2013 which banned concealed weapons in all bars and restaurants that sell liquor.

This new law requires the attention of all Illinois companies.  A clearly articulated policy restricting employees and visitors from carrying firearms in the workplace is a prudent next step.

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