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Well, it’s here.  2014. A new year and a host of new laws.  Calendar year 2013 was a landmark year for the Illinois General Assembly. Major bills regarding major social issues were passed.  Not without controversy and potential lawsuits, but the fact that these bills made it through the legislative process is amazing in and of itself. One such bill, Public Act 98-0063 has made Illinois the 50th state to allow a version of concealed firearms carrying. This article will discuss what these means for the truckers in our state, and how enforcement will respond.

Two truths:  First, the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association is not taking a position as to the merits of concealed carry. The law is here, it is what it is.  Second, the law as it has been passed has left most everyone utterly confused.  Most police administrative personnel have been through training on the law and have left scratching their heads. If the bosses are lost, how is the rank and file supposed to know what to do? Vague rules will lead to interpretative enforcement.

Few will argue that the bill passed is complete and without complex interpretation.  The question will not be if there are going to be modification bills introduced in the next legislative session, but how many bills. This law passed under the assumption that something is better than nothing, and it can always be fixed.  Expect changes…lots of them.

When it comes to trucks, there are no prohibitions in the state or federal law against a licensee carrying concealed firearms in a commercial vehicle, per se.  However, there are a lot of limitations. When a person starts to critically think through the law regarding truck drivers, unfortunately more questions are posed with even fewer answers.  Some will be answered by future legislation. Other will be sorted out in court. You do not want to be the catalyst of either.

If you are a trucker and plan to apply for an Illinois concealed carry license, you need to ask yourself if you are servicing any of the following places:

Schools, day cares, universities, government buildings, hospitals, mental health facilities, public transportation facilities, liquor establishments, stadiums, zoos, airports…the list goes on…and on…and on.

The fact is all these places (and more) need trucks to pick-up and deliver goods. You may be in compliance with the law if you have a concealed firearm in the truck while in the parking area, but what if you need to walk inside to have someone sign a bill or manifest?  You will have to unload and lock the firearm up. Is this the best thing to do in the parking lot of a school or another one of the prohibited places?

Every owner of private property has the right to restrict concealed carry on their property. Before you go walking into a business or loading dock with your delivery, have you checked to make sure your concealed firearm is welcome? It will be a preposterous patchwork of prohibited places.

The expectation is that most private employers will be crafting a policy regarding their staff carrying concealed firearms while at work.  A policy may prohibit firearms at the fixed place of business, but does that extend to the truck driver on the road? Does it matter if the trucker is driving a company truck or is an owner-operator?

Now that a form of concealed carry is available in all states, it is fully expected the gun lobby will be pushing harder than ever for federal law legislation to make all state uniform in their policies.  But that day is not here.  Each state has its own rules and regulations, and an interstate trucker could find himself in a real jam if he is not mindful of this.

Except in a very limited circumstance, Illinois will not honor any other state concealed carry license. Some states may honor Illinois, but it is not reciprocated here. Illinois truckers with a concealed carry license need to know if the state they are travelling in will honor the Illinois license. If not, they best not carry.

As law enforcement is slowly developing policies to most effectively and fairly deal with concealed carry, understand the trickbag the police are in. Everyone has a cell phone and will call 9-1-1 when they spot a gun on a person. Even if you are totally legit and carrying lawfully, the citizens and police do not know who you are or why you have a gun. You are a threat until proven otherwise.

That means you may have a gun pointed at you. You may be proned out on the ground. You may be handcuffed and searched. Every situation is different with a unique tactical response, but policemen are not going to die in complacency for your right to carry concealed.

Be wise truckers. If you choose to exercise your right to carry, do so well. Good research and planning can save you and your company a lot of hassle.

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