Concealed Carry Act and Community Colleges


Concealed Carry Act and Community Colleges

Aug 27, 2013

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The Firearm Concealed Carry Act, 430 ILCS 66/1 et seq. (the “Act”), effective July 9, 2013, directly addresses the carrying of concealed firearms on community college campuses and imposes reporting duties on the chief administrative officer of colleges.  Though the Act is already in effect, carrying concealed weapons on campuses remains prohibited because the licensing process is still being developed by the Illinois Department of State Police (“Department”).  Per the Department, license applications will be made available to the public by January 5, 2014. 

Concealed Carry Provisions  

Under the Act, community college property remains off-limits (with certain exceptions) for individuals carrying concealed firearms.  Specifically, the Act says that “a licensee under this Act shall not knowingly carry a firearm on or into…(15) Any building, classroom, laboratory, medical clinic, hospital, artistic venue, athletic venue, entertainment venue, officially recognized university-related organization property, whether owned or leased, and any real property, including parking areas, sidewalks, and common areas under the control of a public or private community college, college, or university.”  430 ILCS 66/65(a)(15).  A college may, but is not required, to prohibit the carrying of firearms within a vehicle owned, leased, or controlled by the college. 430 ILCS 66/65 (a-5) (1).  

A notable exception for community colleges is the parking lot safe harbor created by the Act which allows a properly licensed person to carry a concealed firearm within a vehicle into a prohibited parking area and to store firearm or ammunition concealed in a case within a locked vehicle or locked container, out of plain view, within the vehicle in the parking area.  430 ILCS 66/55(b),

Additionally, a licensed individual may carry a concealed firearm in the immediate area surrounding his or her vehicle within an otherwise prohibited parking lot for the limited purpose of storing or retrieving the firearm within the vehicle’s trunk, provided the concealed firearm is unloaded prior to exiting the vehicle.  Id.  Importantly, colleges have the discretion to develop regulations designating areas where persons can park vehicles carrying firearms.

Signs stating that the carrying of firearms is prohibited must be clearly and conspicuously posted at the entrance of a building, premises, or real property where carrying a firearm is prohibited.  430 ILCS 66/65(d).  Such signs must be 4 inches by 6 inches in size and be of a uniform design prepared by the Department. Id.  The Act also provides that the Department will adopt rules providing guidance on the use and posting of standardized signs.  Id.

Some colleges offer courses or programs that use firearms in the instruction and curriculum, such as military science and law enforcement training programs, and the Act does not prohibit a College from allowing firearms on campus for such purposes. 430 ILCS 66/65(a-5) (4).  Firearms also may be allowed on a college campus in any area designated for hunting purposes or target shooting. Id. The Act permits colleges to develop regulations and policies regarding the storage or maintenance of firearms when lawfully carried onto campus for such purposes.  

The Act permits colleges to develop regulations or policies regarding student, employee, or visitor misconduct and to provide for discipline, including suspension and expulsion of students, for violations of the Act or college regulations relating to firearms.  For employees, discipline may include termination of employment, subject to other employment rules or regulations in place.

Reporting Duties

The Act also provides that it is the duty of the chief administrative officer of a community college, or designee, to report to the Department when a student is determined to pose a “clear and present danger” to himself, herself, or to others, within 24 hours of the determination as provided in Section 6-103.3 of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code.  Posing a “clear and present danger” means that a person demonstrates threatening physical or verbal behavior, such as violent, suicidal, or assaultive threats, actions, or other behavior.  The Department is charged with adopting further rules related to this reporting requirement.

If you have any questions concerning this Law Alert please do not hesitate to contact Robbins Schwartz.

This Law Alert was prepared by M. Neal Smith, an associate in the firm’s Mokena office.