HIT THE DECK! What the Overturn of Illinois’ Ban on Concealed Carry Could Mean for Employers

Contributed by Brandon Anderson

On December 11, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued a decision finding Illinois’s ban prohibiting civilians from carrying concealed weapons to be unconstitutional.

Following Wisconsin’s passage of concealed carry legislation, in 2011, Illinois became the only state with an out-right ban on the carrying of concealed weapons by civilians.  Due in part to its “lone-wolf” status on the issue, there was a significant amount of speculation regarding the likelihood of constitutional challenges to the Illinois concealed carry ban, especially considering the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McDonald v. Chicago, which found Chicago’s handgun ban to be unconstitutional.  The speculation is, to some extent, over.

While the decision in Moore v. Lisa Madigan is a relatively entertaining read, especially for Constitutional law, Second Amendment, and even history nuts, the outcome is simplistic: Illinois’s outright ban prohibiting ordinary citizens from carrying concealed weapons, specifically handguns, outside of their personal property is unconstitutional (there are exceptions to the law: for example, law enforcement and security guards on their way to or from work, as a security guard, not as a Senator, are excepted).  While the ongoing, seemingly centuries old debate of the “true meaning” of the Second Amendment is likely going to continue into the foreseeable future, the same cannot be said for Illinois’s law—the Seventh Circuit stayed its mandate for 180 days to allow the Illinois legislature to draft a new gun law “that will impose reasonable limitations, consistent with the public safety and the Second Amendment . . . on the carrying of guns in public.”

Now what? Of course the state may appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.  However, in light of McDonald v. Chicago, the likelihood of success is debatable.  Or, the legislature could pass legislation.  Legislation presents its own intriguing issues.  Outside of the city of Chicago, there is generally support for concealed carry laws by both Republicans and Democrats. Regardless of the fact that Illinois Democrats enjoy majority status in both the House and Senate, will those outside of the Chicago city limits support a restrictive, but constitutional law? 

Regardless of the ultimate legal and legislative outcomes, Illinois employers must start giving some serious thought to their handbooks, workplace violence policies, and weapons policies (if one even exists).  Employers will continue to have an interest in, and should have the right to, restrict or regulate the possession of weapons on their premises and/or during work hours.  However, employers must be aware that states have, on occasions, limited this right.  For example, the Wisconsin law that was passed in 2011 does not allow an employer to prohibit employees from keeping weapons, such as a loaded handgun, in their vehicles, even if parked in or on the employer’s parking lot. 

Be sure to check back for an update on this issue within the next 180 days…