A new concealed carry policy may ban Kane County employees from bearing arms anywhere they go while on the job, even if they're in their personal vehicles.
Assistant State's Attorney Joe Lulves pitched the policy Wednesday to the county board's human services committee. State law already bans anyone except law enforcement from carrying concealed weapons into public buildings.
Many public bodies have chosen to let the state regulations exist as the law of the land. But Lulves said the county opens itself to lawsuits if an employee discharges a personally owned firearm while working for the county out in the field.
"This policy reflects a risk management position," Lulves said. "Employers are able to regulate employee behavior, and that includes constitutionally protected behavior."
Lulves used the example of a county employee wearing a shirt with an expletive on it. Such a shirt would be protected free speech when the employee walks down the street on his own time, Lulves said.
"But I guarantee if an employee came in (to the office) wearing that same shirt you would have something to say about it."
The issue gets a bit more complicated when it comes to an employee storing a weapon in his vehicle. There are times county employees use their own vehicles on county business if a county vehicle is not provided or available.
Board member Mark Davoust suggested the county policy include a provision allowing the employee to decline use of his vehicle for county business, without punishment, when the employee has a weapon secured in that vehicle.
Davoust's concern will be reflected in the next draft of the pending policy. What won't be included is any language addressing concerns about courthouse security expressed several times now by Chief Judge Judith Brawka.
She told county board members even before the state's concealed carry legislation became law that she was worried about permit holders storing guns in their vehicles out in the courthouse's unguarded parking lot. That area that also sees high foot traffic from criminal defendants. She's suggested investing in secured lockers for such weapons.
Lulves said that idea is wrought with legal and financial issues. He said gun owners may sue the county if they think something happened to their guns while the weapons were in the county's possession. There is also the cost of buying the lockers and hiring staff to supervise them, he said.
Lulves will present an updated draft of the policy to the committee next month.