By: John E. Murray
On November 1, 2011, Wisconsin will become the 49th state to have a concealed carry statute of some sort. The new law may lead to policy changes for some Wisconsin employers. However, the experiences of states with similar laws suggest that the new law is unlikely to represent a seismic change for Wisconsin employers.
The new law allows licensed individuals to carry concealed handguns and other weapons on most private property. Employers may prohibit employees from possessing guns while they are performing duties in the course and scope of their employment. Employers also may prohibit employees from carrying or storing weapons in buildings the employer owns, leases, or occupies, as well as in company owned vehicles.
Employers cannot prohibit employees from keeping weapons covered by the statute in their personal vehicles, even when those vehicles are parked at work. Employers also cannot prohibit employees from having handguns in personal vehicles while employees are using those personal vehicles in the course and scope of their job duties. Employers can, however, place reasonable restrictions on how weapons are stored in personal vehicles, such as requiring weapons to be kept out of plain-view, in a glove compartment or trunk.
Landlords, tenants, and sponsors of special events must decide whether they will prohibit members of the public, clients, or customers from carrying concealed weapons on their premises. If the decision is made to prohibit non employees from carrying weapons on these premises, signs must be posted alerting non employees to this prohibition. The new law sets out specific size and content requirements for these notices.
If an organization allows non employees to bring weapons onto its premises, the law limits exposure for harm caused by that decision. The law also limits an employer’s liability arising from the decision to allow employees to have guns at work. If an organization allows employees and/or others to carry concealed weapons on its premises, it may ask these individuals to verify that they are, indeed, licensed to possess and carry these weapons. Upon request, individuals should provide the license permitting them to carry the weapon and a picture ID verifying their identity.
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