Businesses can choose to bar guns
Many establishments haven't yet made their decisions clear
CHAMPAIGN — Once Illinois residents obtain concealed-carry permits, will they be able to bring their guns into their favorite restaurants?
Exactly how local eating and drinking establishments plan to respond to the law is not yet clear. Several area managers declined to talk publicly about the politically charged issue, and others confessed to not having paid close attention to the law or having read the statute.
The General Assembly passed concealed-carry legislation over the summer after the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the state's longtime ban on concealed carry. Businesses do have the option of banning guns on their property. And according to the statute, guns are prohibited in businesses where 50 percent of revenue comes from alcohol sales.
Roy Moore, general manager at Guido's in downtown Champaign, said in some years the business brings in more than 50 percent of its revenue from alcohol and in other years, it's less than 50 percent.
"Most of the clubs (in Champaign-Urbana) don't allow any kind of weapons to begin with, so I imagine they're not too worried about it. ... It's extremely difficult for us because our demographic changes completely" depending on the time of day, Moore said.
Dining at Guido's on New Year's Eve day were families and groups of Illini and Indiana basketball fans. But by 10 p.m., "there's a completely different crowd," Moore said.
Whatever policy the owners decide, it will have to be enforced at both times, for both crowds, he pointed out.
What he does know, Moore said, is "alcohol and weapons just don't mix."
"I have no idea what we will do," said Joe Donoghue with Esquire Lounge in downtown Champaign. Because more than half of its sales come from alcohol, weapons are not allowed there, per the law. But no sign has been posted yet.
"Until someone tells us what to do, we'll do what we've been doing: trying to keep order," Donoghue said.
Tony Pomonis runs Merry Ann's Diner, which does not serve alcohol. He's taking the wait-and-see approach.
"We try to be as apolitical as possible. This is something we have to study ourselves before making an enlightened response or policy," Pomonis said. "We want to be as welcoming as we can to as many people as possible," he said, adding that he does not want to alienate gun owners, nor does he want to alienate those who are concerned about their children's safety and the safety of others.
"Most people are afraid to take a position on this. It's a meaty, weighty kind of thing," said Glenn Keefer, managing partner with Keefer's Restaurant in Chicago.
Whatever restaurateurs decide to do, their action is interpreted as either an affirmation or challenge to the Second Amendment, he said.
"Some bristle at the idea of a business owner such as a restaurant like ours making a decision to put up a sign that guns are unwelcome. It's tough. I don't think restaurants choose to get involved unless they have to," Keefer said.
Keefer, who supports the Second Amendment and keeps guns at his place in the Adirondacks, said what he worries about is "the mixture of guns and alcohol." People can get just as drunk at a restaurant drinking Chardonnay as they do sitting at a bar drinking beer.
As a member of the executive board of the Illinois Restaurant Association, Keefer has been talking with fellow owners and managers around the state.
His advice to them: "You've got to make a decision that you'll live with, no pun intended. If you decide you don't want to have guns, you need to put that sign up," he said.
That sign is available from the Illinois State Police (downloadable as a pdf from its website) and features the image of a handgun with a circle around it and a diagonal slash through it.
Where not to wear
According to state law, concealed carry is not permitted at:
All schools — public and private, from kindergartens to 4-year university.
All school parking lots.
All preschools or child care facility buildings and property.
Any public playground.
Government buildings, parking areas or portion of a building with government services.
Court buildings — circuit, appellate or Supreme Court.
Prisons, jails or juvenile detention centers and property.
Public or private hospitals, mental health facilities or nursing homes.
Bus, train or other transportation funded in part or in whole with public funds.
Bars, specifically any establishment with more than 50 percent of gross receipts from alcohol sales within previous three months.
Public gatherings or events held on public property, requiring a local government permit. Exception: Person who must walk through a public gathering in order to access his or her residence, place of business or vehicle.
City-owned, or park district-owned, public parks, athletic areas or athletic facilities. Exception: Person can conceal carry while on a trail or bikeway if only a portion of the trail or bikeway includes a public park.
Private community college, college or university.
Stadiums and arenas, including related properties and parking lots, or any college or professional sporting event.
Zoos and museums.
Nuclear power facilities.
Anywhere firearms are prohibited under federal law.