What are the rules about concealed weapons in a private business?
Even if a client or employee has a concealed carry permit in accordance with Wisconsin law, it is within your rights as a business owner to post signs prohibiting guns on your premises. However, here’s where it gets interesting: if you do choose to post a sign prohibiting guns, your liability as a business owner actually increases.
Attorney Brent Smith sums it up simply. “The bottom line is that under Wisconsin law, if you allow guns, you have immunity should a gun discharge on your premises. If you don’t allow guns, you don’t have immunity.”
If this seems confusing, says Smith, consider the following scenarios:
A business owner posts a “no firearms” sign on the door. A permit-holding employee respects the sign and leaves the gun at home. Someone else enters the business with a gun. The gun goes off, intentionally or otherwise, and the employee is injured. Because the business owner prevented the employee from bringing in a gun, the business owner may be held responsible for the injury.
A second scenario:
A business owner posts a “no firearms” sign. A person enters the business with a firearm. Because of the posted sign, employees can ask that person to leave. Entering a “no guns” business while packing heat constitutes trespassing. The added dimension, however, is that posting the sign means that the business assumes the duty of enforcing the policy. Again, let’s say the gun is discharged, and someone is injured. Because a sign was posted and an incident occurred, the business owner can be found negligent for failing to monitor customers and clients for firearms.
Overall, says Smith, “This law seems like more of a disincentive to post a sign prohibiting firearms.” His advice regarding workplace gun policies is that business owners thoroughly educate themselves and come up with a plan for enforcing any gun policies they choose to post.
“Know the law,” Smith advises, “and make a reasoned decision.”
Information provided by Brent Smith, Business and Real Estate Lawyer at Johns, Flaherty & Collins. For a real estate lawyer in La Crosse, contact him at 608-784-5678.