By: Todd Sivia, Attorney-at-Law
Concealed weapons are now legal in IL. Are you prepared?
On Jan 1, 2014, the Firearm Conceal Carry Act went into effect in the state of IL. Many people believe this law will have no impact on them. After all, if you do not want to carry a gun and most businesses prohibit firearms, how could this law possible affect you? Believe me, it will.
But, first, let me briefly define concealed verses unconcealed weapons.
A “concealed” weapon is a loaded or unloaded handgun carried on or about a person completely or mostly concealed from view of the public or on or about a person within a vehicle.
Unconcealed weapons, by contrast, are loaded or unloaded handguns, or other firearms, that are in clear view of the public.
Ok, so how is this law going to affect you? Do you work outside your home? Do you like to go to the mall? Eat out? The person next to you could be carrying a concealed weapon.
It is true that there are many places where firearms will remain prohibited—schools, hospitals, government buildings, etc. Most businesses will likely post a sign like this [show Gun Sign] which announces that the building prohibits firearms in the building and/or surrounding area.
You may have already noticed that businesses have posted signs at every entrance. But a sign alone may not absolve a business or property owner from liability. What if a customer or client brings in a concealed weapon anyway? What if it goes off? What would you do in that situation? Business owners and managers need to create a detailed action plan—in writing—and update employee handbooks to address potential issues.
You also need to be aware that most public parking lots are considered “safe harbors.” So, even if you are in a parking lot with a posted sign, a licensed individual can still have a firearm in their glove box or trunk. That individual also has the right to have the firearm out of the vehicle in order to transport it to the trunk or glove box.
Think about these scenarios: You have your CCL and you are taking your gun out of your trunk and moving it to your glove box. Then you see someone else in the parking lot getting mugged. What do you do? What can you do? Is it legal for you to draw your weapon in a lot with a posted sign?
Then answer? Maybe.
What if your employer permits concealed weapons and a co-worker decides to carry one. The gun accidently discharges. Who is at fault? Your boss? The owner of your building? Your coworker?
The answer? It could be all of them. It could be none of them.
Unfortunately, there are a lot questions yet to be answered concerning the FCCA. There will no doubt be test cases in the coming years that will serve to define precedents for the rest of us.
In the meantime, however, there are things you should do.
If you are a property or business owner, be sure you understand the law as it currently stands. Be aware that application of the law is likely to change throughout the year. You also need to review your lease or employee handbook to be certain that this issue is addressed in writing.
If you are considering applying for your CCL, it is important to have a plan of action in the event your weapon is discharged—either by accident or in an incident.
Remember—there are a lot of gray areas surrounding the FCCA. If you decide to carry a concealed weapon, it is a good idea to talk to your attorney and create an action plan. The key is to know your rights and respect the rights of others.