- Our friends at the Metropolitan Chicago Synod ELCA have written a short summary “Concealed Carry in Places of Worship.” To summarize, although the Act does not prohibit the carrying of a concealed firearm into a house of worship, it does permit “private property owners to prohibit the carrying of concealed guns on property under their control as long as a specific sign issued by the Illinois State Police is posted.” (from the article). The reference is 430 ILCA Section 66/65.
- According to the Act, Section 65(d), the sign must be “clearly and conspicuously posted at the entrance of a building, premises, or real property.” (again from the article). This sign may be obtained from the State Police or downloaded at https://ispfsb.com/Public/Signage.aspx. Thus, any congregations who wish to prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons in their churches may do so as long as the signs are posted.
- Although the Act does not specifically address places of worship, it does specifically address elementary and high schools, as well as preschools and child care centers [Section 66/65 (a)(1) and (2)]. Section 65 is titled “Prohibited areas.” As such, any church with a school becomes a place where “A licensee under this Act shall not knowingly carry a firearm on or into…”[Section 66/65 (a)]
- As a prohibited area, the church with a school must display the official sign from the State Police or downloaded from the website referenced above. “Signs stating that the carrying of firearms is prohibited shall be clearly and conspicuously posted at the entrance of a building, premises, or real property specified in this Section as a prohibited area, unless the building or premises is a private residence. Signs shall be of a uniform design as established by the Department and shall be 4 inches by 6 inches in size. [Section 66/65 (a-100, (d)]
So, again to summarize, you may choose to prohibit firearms on church property, in which case you must display the official sign. If you have a school in your church building, you must display the official sign.
Check with the local branch of your state police to get the sign and clarify where it must be posted. It is to be posted at the entrance(s) of the building, but as many churches have many entrances, you may want to find out if you need to post at all of them, or only the ones that are actually used!
Another good summary of the Act is found on the website of the Illinois State Bar Association in its December 2013 Illinois Bar Journal .