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Concealed carry triggers physician office questions on gun-toting patients

A. Jay Goldstein February 16, 2015

One year ago, Illinois became the last state to enact concealed carry firearm legislation after the Seventh U.S. Court of Appeals stuck down its longtime ban.

While the statute prohibits concealed carry in over 23 locations, including mental health care facilities and hospitals, many questions are frequently asked regarding patients carrying concealed firearms at a physician’s office.

Generally, private property owners may prohibit concealed firearms on the property under their control by posting the proper statutory signage. If a physician or physician’s group owns the building where the practice is located, this is straightforward: Post the approved sign and obtain compliance from law-abiding patients.

What happens, however, if the physician is just renting space in a medical office building and is not the property owner? 

If the physician’s office is part of a larger office complex or building, the physician practice cannot prohibit lawful concealed carry holders by placement of approved signage, as only the actual property owner maintains that right.

That being said, there are several procedures that physician practices can initiate or implement to recognize both the patient’s right to concealed carry and ensure a safe and secure environment for the physicians, staff and patients. A few examples include:

  • Negotiating with building owners for lease amendments that allow banning firearms on or about the rented premises;
  • Offering secured locked storage lockers or lock box units for patients lawfully carrying concealed firearms in the physician’s office; and/or
  • Requesting that patients return to their vehicles to store their weapons lawfully and securely in the trunk of their locked vehicle if they drove to their appointment.

These, and many other questions, continue to arise as it relates to the Illinois Firearm Concealed Carry Act and public safety.

Jay Goldstein is a partner in Thompson Coburn's Health Law Practice Group. He can be reached at (312) 580-2207 or agoldstein@thompsoncoburn.com.