Housing Authority tables gun policy until Legislature acts
CHAMPAIGN — The Housing Authority of Champaign County likely will wait out a new state law on concealed carry before it allows guns on its properties, housing commissioners decided on Thursday.
Champaign County public housing residents are not allowed to possess guns in their units, but housing officials have been working toward changing that policy after they were notified by their liability insurer this year that it is a violation of residents' Second Amendment rights to prohibit them from possessing firearms in their homes.
The housing board must approve a new policy, but board members tabled the issue on Thursday while they wait to hear the details of a new concealed carry law working its way through Springfield.
Eric Hanson, an attorney representing the housing authority, told the board that the policy will need to be consistent with any new state law. After many hours of debate on the bill in Springfield on Tuesday, there is no way to know at this point what details will be contained in concealed-carry regulations.
A federal appeals court has ordered Illinois legislators to legalize concealed carry by June. Housing officials had previously hoped to have their new policy in place by April 1.
The housing authority's policy will not get a green light until the state law is finalized, but right now, the proposal mirrors what is suggested by its liability insurer. Public housing residents would be required to comply with all local, state and federal laws regulating gun ownership, and they would have to register the gun with the housing authority.
Residents would not be allowed to permit any guest with a gun onto housing authority property, nor would they be allowed to fire a gun "except when such discharge or use is made or done in self-defense."
Residents would not be allowed to carry firearms in common areas of housing authority buildings, except for when that gun is being transported to the resident's unit for the first time or when it is being permanently removed from the resident's unit.
The housing authority may deny a resident from keeping a gun on its property if, after a hearing, housing officials determine the situation "poses an unreasonable risk of serious bodily injury or death to a third person."
Hanson said those may need to change depending on the concealed-carry rules. For example, he said the state law may make it OK for residents' guests to carry guns on housing authority property.
"There's a very good possibility that if concealed-carry is available, that person may not be prohibited from having a gun on the property," he said.
Until state legislators settle on rules, he said, housing officials cannot do much. And housing policy needs to be "on the same plane as that."
"That's the concern," Hanson said. "Seeing what they come up with."