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Dentists can easily fill a book with the number of non-dentistry issues they routinely confront — insurance reimbursement, staff performance reviews, cleaning contracts. Well, add another chapter.
The Illinois Concealed Carry law.
If you thought dentist and doctor offices were among the 23 “prohibited places” concealed guns are not allowed, you would be wrong. In the law-making factory that is the Illinois General Assembly, few should be surprised that many common-sense exceptions were overlooked in the state’s last-minute Firearm Concealed Carry Act.
Hospitals, mental health facilities and nursing homes are off-limits to those who are carrying concealed guns as well as schools, day care centers, playgrounds, parks, most alcohol-serving establishments, government buildings, amusement parks, zoos, museums, casinos and nuclear facilities, along with a few others.
For Illinois State Dental Society Director of Government Relation Dave Marsh, the concealed carry law hasn’t been an issue for the ISDS, but it’s been a “hot topic” among small business owners, says Business Services Director Laurie Silvey of the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce, which produced a very popular webinar on the new law.
Contemplating the law may seem unnecessary or unimaginable, but there are two important issues you should address:
Dentists and doctors who own their office or building are considered a “private property owner” who may prohibit concealed guns on premises by posting a “uniform sign design” — a red bar through an image of a gun — “clearly and conspicuously” on the doors to the office.
For those who rent or lease, the law isn’t as clear cut. “First, talk with the landlord and express (posting the prohibited sign) is something you want to do or have control over doing,” says Michael Wong, a Geneva attorney with SmithAmundsen, LLC who crafted the state chamber’s webinar.
Until there is more clarification through amendments and court cases, Mr. Wong says the best path is to work with the building owner or property manager and arrive at a written “lease addendum” that allows a sign prohibiting concealed guns on the property.
While the posted sign is the most conspicuous symbol of the law, Mr. Wong says the “bigger issue” is how to address staffers’ right to carry concealed guns.
“You really have to decide how you want to handle employees,” Mr. Wong says. “You have to have a clear position and state your expectations with the law.”
He suggests that the office’s employee handbook be updated with a “weapons policy” or “workplace violence” section that addresses concealed guns as well as “threatening” behavior and actions. “You want to make it clear: ‘This is our policy,’” Mr. Wong says.
Dentists and employers should realize, however, that barring concealed carry inside the office does not extend to employees’ right to keep a gun inside their car.
All of this, of course, doesn’t take up the emotional, unsettling issue of the reaction by doctors, patients and staff to seeing a sign prohibiting concealed guns on their office door. To be sure, it will be a jarring sign to us all of the times we live in.
A tradition of working for the dental profession. The Chicago Dental Society was organized in 1864 and incorporated in 1878. The objective of the Chicago Dental Society is to encourage the improvement of the health of the public, to promote the art and science of dentistry and to represent the intrest of the members of the profession and the public that it serves.
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