|COMPLIANCE: Banks and “concealed carry” laws|
Can your bank "just say no"? It depends
Is your bank allowed to post a sign barring guns in the building? You have to know your state law before you can answer the question.
By Leslie Callaway, CRCM, ABA Compliance Project Manager in ABA's Compliance Center. Callaway is co-author of ABA Banking Journal's Compliance Inbox department. Disclaimer: The answers in this article do not provide, nor are they intended to substitute for, professional legal advice.
Laws allowing firearms to be carried into banks concern many bankers. Love them or hate them, concealed carry laws that allow citizens of a state to bear arms are here to stay.
Because of this, banks are faced with many questions regarding compliance with such laws and how to best protect the bank's customers and employees. The purpose of this FAQ is not to answer questions about specific states' laws, but to address some of the more common questions that bankers ask and issues that banks must consider in setting bank policy. Forty-nine states have concealed carry laws on the books. (Illinois is the only state that does not, nor does Washington D.C.) All answers provided in this article are as of October 2012.
A. No. According to 18 United States Code Section 930: "Possession Of Firearms And Dangerous Weapons In Federal Facilities," the term "federal facility" means "a building or part thereof owned or leased by the federal government, where federal employees are regularly present for the purpose of performing their official duties." Therefore, the Federal Reserve qualifies as a federal building, but a bank does not.
A. No, not unless your state law explicitly prohibits concealed weapons in banks. Alabama and Nevada are examples of two states that do not contain restrictions on carrying firearms in banks. In addition, these states and others have laws that stipulate that "No Firearms" signs are unenforceable unless posted on property where firearms are banned by state law.
For example, a school can post a sign stating that firearms are illegal, and the sign has the force of law, because the code stipulates that weapons cannot be carried in schools. If a bank is not one of the places where weapons are prohibited, a sign may not be posted that states firearms are illegal.
Some states (Wisconsin, for example) allow businesses to prohibit a concealed carry licensee from carrying a firearm onto the premises. Signs must be prominently posted near all common entrances to buildings and, if applicable, near all probable points of access to "grounds."
In the absence of posted signs prohibiting weapons, concealed carry licensees can lawfully carry weapons onto the premises.
A. Again, this is defined under state law. In most cases, it is illegal to carry inside a federal building, in or near a school, in or near a place of worship, or in restricted areas of an airport. Some states, such as Michigan, do explicitly prohibit weapons in banks, but most do not. The laws of each state may vary: Banks need to know the law in the state(s) where their branches are located.
A. A bank may apply whatever restrictions it wants. If signage is not specifically allowed by state law, banks may still post a sign stating that no firearms are permitted (although they can't say it's "illegal," as discussed above). Whether or not these restrictions violate someone's constitutional rights is for the courts to decide.
Nevertheless, a sign barring weapons has no force of law unless specifically provided for in the individual state's law. If a bank posts "No Firearms" signage but concealed carry laws do not prohibit firearms in banks, a bank that becomes aware that a customer is "carrying" may ask the customer to leave. If the customer refuses, bank personnel may have recourse under criminal trespass laws. A bank should consult legal counsel before deciding to take any such action.
A. In most states, employers can prohibit an employee licensed to carry from carrying a concealed weapon, or a particular type of concealed weapon, in the course of employment, or restrict concealed weapons in secured areas of the job site.
However, some states do have laws protecting the employee who wants to carry inside his or her own vehicle, even if that vehicle is used in the course of employment or whether the motor vehicle is driven or parked on property used by the employer.
A. As an incentive to allow concealed carry, some states have granted businesses statutory immunity from any liability arising from the decision to not prohibit concealed carry.
There may, however, be reputational issues associated with allowing concealed carry, including a potential negative perception of the safety of the premises. Insurance costs may also be a factor (a bank's insurance costs may increase if firearms are permitted).
A. Generally, no.
Most states do not require that a person legally carrying a firearm inform a business that they are carrying when they enter that business premises. Some states stipulate that a permit holder carrying a concealed handgun is only required to inform a peace officer or emergency services personnel unless they are physically unable to do so. Other states stress that permit holders should inform police officers that they are carrying legally in order to prevent an unwarranted arrest for illegal carry, but are not required to do so.
A. This may vary by state, but generally a person may carry a handgun; an electric weapon such as a Taser; a knife; or a billy club. Switchblade knives, machine guns, or short-barreled shotguns or rifles are usually banned.
A. Check with your bank's legal counsel or your state attorney general's website. You can also link to a summary of your state's law using www.handgunlaw.us or search for state gun control laws at http://statelaws.findlaw.com/
[This article was posted on October 11, 2012, on the website of ABA Banking Journal, www.ababj.com, and is copyright 2012 by the American Bankers Association.]
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