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Like it or not, the Illinois Concealed Carry Act is finally here.  In July 2013, Illinois became the 50th state to pass a concealed carry law.  For those who do not know, the new law allows licensed individuals in Illinois to carry concealed firearms on their persons and in their vehicles.  While the law is not overly complicated, there are certain provisions in the law which businesses and employers should be familiar with if they intend to limit an individual's ability to carry concealed firearms into the workplace.  For instance, the law prohibits authorized licensees from carrying a firearm into "prohibited areas".  These "prohibited areas" include the following locations:
  • Areas controlled by public or private hospitals or their affiliates, mental health facilities, nursing homes, public or private elementary or secondary schools, pre-schools, and child-care facilities;
  • Buildings, classrooms, labs, clinics, hospitals, athletic or entertainment venues and any other areas under the control of a public or private community college, college, or university;
  • Areas under the control of an establishment serving alcohol on its premises, if more than 50% of the establishment's gross receipts within the prior 3 months is from the sale of alcohol;
  • Public playgrounds, parks, athletic facilities, libraries;
  • Airports, zoos, museums, and amusement parks;
  • Buildings under the control or partial control of an officer of the executive or legislative branch of government, courts and units of local government;
  • Correctional institutions and detention centers;
  • Hospitals, hospital affiliates, mental health facilities, and nursing homes; and
  • Public transportation including buses, trains, and public transportation facilities.
If a place of business is not among the expressly prohibited areas mentioned above, licensed individuals are allowed to carry concealed weapons onto the premises unless the business posts signage at its entrance expressly prohibiting firearms.  The signage must be the uniform sign provided by the Illinois State Police as shown here.

However, even if a business has posted the "no firearms" signage, the law contains a parking lot exception.  This exception provides that even where a business has posted signage prohibiting firearms, individuals may still carry a concealed firearm within a vehicle into parking lot areas and can store the firearms and ammunition in a case in their locked vehicle or in a locked container out of plain view.  Thus, while licensed individuals may be prohibited from carrying a firearm into a business, they cannot be prohibited from keeping their firearm in their car. 
While this area of the law continues to evolve, it is imperative that employers and business owners review their existing policies and procedures to ensure that their rules do not infringe on the constitutional rights of its employees and visitors.  Specifically, businesses should update employee handbooks and should decide whether to ban employees, the public, and invitees, from entering their facilities with a firearm.  If businesses decide to ban firearms, they need to make sure their signage complies with the law and is clearly and conspicuously posted in the appropriate places throughout the building.  Additionally, businesses that lease office space should discuss with landlords their intentions with respect to firearm limitations.  It is quite possible that existing leases will need to be amended to ensure the landlord and the tenant are on the same page.

This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader's specific circumstances. 
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