Gun law: Carry on ... unless a business posts this sign

News-DemocratFebruary 25, 2014 

Although businesses may prohibit guns, the parking lots right outside are a "safe harbor" for gun owners.

Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons told metro-east business owners at a Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event Tuesday morning at Edison's Entertainment Complex in Edwardsville that he is a big proponent of Illinois' concealed carry law, which has been in effect since July, and businesses need to realize how the new law affects them.

Firearms are prohibited in a number of places, such as government buildings, hospitals, nursing homes, banks and schools. But a parking lot, even one outside a businesses where concealed firearms are prohibited, are regarded as safe harbors where citizens are free to carry concealed firearms. Those businesses that otherwise do not allow guns on the property must inform the public if concealed firearms are prohibited on their property.

"If the business is not an automatically prohibited place, then it is presumed that individuals may carry a concealed fire arm into the business," Gibbons said. "If it is not automatically prohibited by law, it is presumed that people may carry a firearm into that business unless you put up a sign that says you can't."

A new sign, a 4-by-6-inch sticker, is available for Illinois businesses to obtain and let employees and customers know concealed firearms are not permitted. Gibbons said the property owner where the business operates ultimately decides whether concealed firearms are allowed on the premises.

"The property owner is the person who by presumption has the right to control this," Gibbons said. "If you are leasing a property for business, if you are the landlord or the tenant, make sure that that relationship has been worked out. Make sure that that detail has been discussed because what you could run into is the inability to enforce that if you are leasing the premises if the owner feels differently about it."

In order to carry a concealed firearm in Illinois, a gun owner must obtain a concealed carry license from the Illinois State Police. This permit allows the gun owner to carry the a loaded or unloaded concealed firearm with them or in their vehicle. The license is valid for five years and can be renewed for an additional five-year period.

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 239-2526.

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