Concealed Carry Gun Laws and How They Affect Your Organization

In July of 2013, Illinois became the 50th state to allow concealed handguns to be carried by its citizens.  Starting in January 2014, Illinois citizens will be able to file online applications for a concealed carry permit.  It is time to learn about how these laws work and what your responses to them – as an Illinois business – might be.

Finding Illinois Conceal-Carry Information

Wikipedia follows gun laws from state to state and tracks a number of common elements.  Here is what Wikipedia says about the Illinois law:

  • A FOID (Firearm Owners Identification Card) is required to purchase or own a firearm.
  • Firearms need not be registered.
  • Open carry is not permitted.
  • Municipalities are allowed to ban assault weapons.
  • Automatic firearms, short-barreled shotguns, and silencers are prohibited.

You might also check with your local police to see if they have guidelines for this law.

Liability Issues

Gun incidents can result in liability to your business.  Be sure to check with your insurer to be sure that your insurance policies are supportive of the types of gun-related risk exposures you may be subject to in your locality.

Possible areas where your organization might be liable:

  • OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires businesses to maintain a safe working environment.
  • Employees injured by gun-related incidents will be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
  • Non-employees may seek claims based on a theory of negligence, especially if a perpetrator was known to have a history of violence.  Employers may also be liable on grounds that they are responsible for the wrongful acts of an employee, even if the perpetrator acted outside the scope of his or her employment.

Employer Options

Your right to control the presence of guns on your premises is evolving as laws change and courts are faced with gun-related lawsuits.  Over time, we may be able to discern “bright lines” between what is permissible and what is not.  In the meantime, here are our suggestions:

  • In Illinois, you may adopt a policy to prohibit guns on your properties (with the exception of parking lots, see below).  A suggested policy should clearly prohibit “possessing handguns or other weapons on employer property.” You must post a sign of at least 4” x 6” at each entrance to give public notice of this policy.  Visit this link for a printable sign:
  • In Illinois, you may not prohibit guns in cars parked in your parking lots if they are properly stored. State law has created a safe harbor in parking areas even if you have prohibited firearms on the property. This means that a licensee may lock a firearm in his car in a locked case not in plain view of someone standing outside the car. Also, a licensee may carry an unloaded firearm to the trunk of the car for the purpose of storing or retrieving it.
  • If you have a general policy that no one may carry a gun into a business meeting, but you are meeting in a location where guns are permitted, you might adopt a policy that mandates termination of the business meeting if a gun or other weapon is discovered to be present, and re-scheduling it for another time and in a place that may legally bar guns.

A policy may be useful if for no other reason than to insulate your organization from liability in the event that a gun-related incident is perpetrated by someone who violates it.

Related Issues

Remember, in Illinois you may not discriminate against employees because of lawful off-duty activities, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and engaging in political or recreational activities.  This will most likely extend to employees who carry guns legally.

For additional information about how to reduce the risk of violence in your agency, please read Kathryn Vanden Berk’s article “Workplace Violence: Not as Unpredictable as Once Thought” Alliance Magazine, Issue 1, 2011.

For information about FEMA’s recommendation that churches and schools prepare for disasters and shooter situations, click here.

Suicide prevention is not really a legal or business issue, but many people do not realize that the presence of guns increases the risk of death in the event of a suicide attempt.  Be clear about messages about the risk of suicide if guns are available [i]

  • In the United States, suicides outnumber homicides almost two to one.
  • More suicides use a firearm (52%) than every other method combined.
  • Less than 1% of nonfatal attempts are with a gun.[ii]

By Kathryn M. Vanden Berk, JD 

This article is provided for general information and should not be relied upon as legal advice for a specific situation.  If you are in need of specific advice or legal representation, please do not hesitate to contact us.

©2014 Bea & VandenBerk



[ii] Wyoming, Montana and Alaska, the states with the three highest suicide rates, are also the top gun-owning states, according to the Harvard center. Most researchers say the weight of evidence from multiple studies is that guns in the home increase the risk of suicide. Ibid.