Businesses react to concealed carry law

Wisconsin’s concealed carry law goes into effect today, and businesses must decide whether to allow employees, customers and vendors to carry handguns and other small weapons.

Wisconsin businesses that take no action will by default allow concealed weapons to be carried on their premises.

The law applies to those with a license for concealed carry, which Wisconsin residents can begin applying for today, said Jennifer Walther, an attorney at Mawicke & Goisman Attorneys at Law. The Department of Justice is allowed 45 days to reply to the application.

Police officers, military veterans and out-of-state residents who already hold concealed carry licenses can begin carrying concealed weapons today.

Businesses have the right to prohibit weapons, and must display that policy on a visible sign at the entrance.

“If they’re the lawful occupants of the space, they have the right to make their own decision about the space they occupy,” Walther said.

Companies who lease space in office buildings make policies on a case-by-case basis, and the building owner decides whether to allow weapons in common areas, Walther said.

Weapons are not allowed in schools, prisons or court rooms under the law, she said.

“Universities have their own exemptions, but they will have to post notices around their property,” Walther said.

BizTimes conducted a brief survey of local businesses and public destinations to sample how they are reacting to the new law.

Roundy’s Supermarkets Inc.
“Roundy’s does not intend to impose any prohibitions on our shoppers based on this new law,” said Vivian King, director of public affairs for the Milwaukee-based grocery store chain. “We operate under the same practice at our stores in Minnesota, where a similar law has been in place for several years.”

Wisconsin State Fair
The Wisconsin State Fair is waiting on the Wisconsin Department of Administration to answer some questions the organization’s board of directors had about the bill. “Our board of directors had a few questions for the department of administration regarding our unique situation as a state agency but also one that sub contracts events to others. We aren’t sure whether our subcontractors desires supersede any policy we would put into place. Our board was given a proposed policy to put in place and we plan to make a definitive decision on it at our December board meeting, after we’ve had those types of questions answered by the state,” said Patrice Harris, director of public relations and communications at the Wisconsin State Fair

Aurora Health Care
According to Myrle Croasdale, public relations manager at Aurora Health Care, signs have already been posted at the entry ways of all Aurora Health Care facilities across the state, indicating no weapons will be allowed on the premises. “We want patients to be safe,” she said. Weapons have never been allowed inside Aurora Health Care facilities.

Bradley Center
The Bradley Center in Milwaukee will continue to ban firearms and other weapons after Wisconsin’s concealed carry law takes effect. “We believe that maintaining our current policy of prohibiting firearms and other weapons is the correct and appropriate decision for our facility and events. “Guns and other weapons have never been allowed at the Bradley Center, and our plan is to continue business as usual,” said Steve Costello, president of the Bradley Center Sports & Entertainment Corp. According to Costello, the Bradley Center will post signs noting the weapons policy at all entrances, as well as on the facility’s website at www.bradleycenter.com. The policy will be in place at all Bradley Center events. The Bradley Center will enforce the policy by posting security and law enforcement officials throughout the facility and searching all bags upon entry.

World Festival Inc. (Summerfest)
“We are pleased there is an exemption in the statute for special events. Summerfest as well as the other ethnic festivals held at Henry Maier Festival Park are included in the special event exemption,” said John Boler, vice president of sales and marketing at Summerfest/World Festival Inc. “There will be signage prohibiting concealed weapons at every major entrance to the festival grounds and we will also continue with our past security practices including bag checks, pat downs and weapon detection wanding to help keep Summerfest  and its patrons as safe as they have been in the past.” The signs prohibiting concealed weapons will remain up permanently at all entrances to Henry Maier Festival Park throughout the entire festival season, Boler said.

Children’s Hospital and Health System
Children’s Hospital and Health System also will continue to ban firearms and other weapons from its properties. The hospital issued a statement that said bilingual signage that reads “no firearms, no weapons allowed” will be posted on all properties to notify patients, families, visitors, clients, vendors and staff. “Children’s Hospital and Health System places children and families at the center of care and service design and delivery. They provide a welcoming and safe environment by taking responsibility for safety and security,” the organization stated.

Milwaukee County Zoo
The zoo has posted signs at the entrances and throughout the property that state the following: “The Milwaukee County Zoo does not allow the open or concealed carry of any weapons in any Zoo building or during any posted special event on Zoo grounds,” according to spokeswoman Jennifer Diliberti.

Archdiocese of Milwaukee
In a statement released Oct. 31, the Catholic Bishops of Wisconsin offered guidance on the law. “The right to bear arms is protected under our Constitution, but like all rights, it must be exercised responsibly and in accordance with applicable laws. We are obligated to use this particular freedom with due respect for others and for the desires of those who welcome us into their homes, places of business, and other public spaces, such as churches and religious institutions,” the statement said. “Whatever an individual parish decides to do regarding its policy on concealed weapons, we ask that all people seriously consider not carrying weapons into church buildings as a sign of reverence for these sacred spaces. While the Church has always upheld the right to self-defense, peaceful means of reconciling conflicts and differences, both as individuals and nations, is the preferred method.”

JPMorgan Chase Bank
“We’re not putting signs in any branches,” said Christine Holevas, first vice president of media relations and communications. Of the 26 states in which Chase has branches, only Illinois does not allow concealed carry of weapons. The bank has not experienced any problems at its branches in concealed carry states, she said.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice has created this “frequently asked questions” page about the new law.

Molly Newman is a reporter at BizTimes Milwaukee.

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