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Allow guns, or not? A decision for businesses

Some plan to post signs to enforce ban despite new concealed carry law

STERLING – Since Jan. 5, some 23,000 Illinoisans have applied for a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Of that number, 431 applications have come from Lee, Whiteside, Ogle, Bureau, and Carroll counties.

State police spokeswoman Monique Bond said between 800 and 1,000 applications are received every day, down from about 4,500 applications that were received on the first day for applications.

So far, Cook County leads in the number of applications, with 5,305, although that’s a low number, given that the county makes up 40 percent of the state’s population.

State police have provided a downloadable file on the the agency’s website where business owners can print out a window sign to advise customers that guns are not welcome. State police require the sign be at least 4-by-6 inches.

It’s a question that local businesses will have to ask themselves: Do they want concealed weapons on their premises, or not?

Most businesses in the area, it seems, have not yet made a decision about posting signage, one way or the other.

But at Sterling’s Air Play Sports and Espresso, that answer is no.

“Look, I have a hard enough time toting around my phone, wallet, and keys,” said Rich McNinch, partner at Air Play Sports and Espresso. “There’s no need to bring a gun into a coffee shop, but if someone absolutely has to, I just don’t want to see it.

“Posting a sign seems more like a political statement, and I’m not interested in alienating half our customers just to nanny them about gun safety. I certainly appreciate the want to protect oneself, but I’d rather part with the money in my drawer than see anyone get hurt.”

Dixon’s Books on First, however, will post a sign banning guns.

In addition to places like schools, courthouses, public transportation, and bars, the law bans guns from being taken onto any property under the control of a hospital.

CGH Medical Center has already ordered signage banning guns and expects it to be posted by early February. Hospital protocol is in place for how to handle a situation in which a person brings a gun inside.

“If somebody comes in [with a gun], we approach them and tell them that they can’t bring a weapon in,” said Dr. Paul Steinke, CGH president and CEO. “And if they refuse, we get the police involved.”

But it could be months before anyone actually receives a carry permit. From the time of submission, state police have 90 days to review an application. Local law enforcement agencies have 30 days to file an objection once an application is received.

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