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Concealed carry gun law puts businesses on the spot

Businesses and organizations have a decision to make now that a concealed carry measure has passed in Wisconsin after more than a decade of debate. The law signed July 8 takes effect Nov. 1. But just how many private and public establishments won...

Businesses and organizations have a decision to make now that a concealed carry measure has passed in Wisconsin after more than a decade of debate.

The law signed July 8 takes effect Nov. 1. But just how many private and public establishments won't ban guns from their premises remains to be seen.

Carrying a concealed weapon requires a permit issued by the state Department of Justice and a background check. Concealed weapons will be allowed in most public buildings unless signs are posted that indicate otherwise. Businesses also have the option of prohibiting concealed weapons if the restrictions are posted. Concealed weapons will be allowed in restaurants and taverns if there are no signs posted and the person is not drinking.

"(The Wisconsin Restaurant Association) did not take a position on the concealed carry bill," Pete Hanson, director of government relations for the organization, wrote in an email. "We did explain to member restaurants in our June newsletter what was coming, what their options were, and we created a sign they can use to post their property -- 'no guns allowed' -- if they wish to do that."

Joanne Palzkill, president of the West Wisconsin Chapter of WRA and co-owner of three area restaurants, including Draganetti's in Altoona, said many people in the industry are researching the issue.

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"It's my understanding that there are 48 other states with this law in place, so I think we can learn from the others here," she said. "Some restaurants posts signs, and some choose not to; I believe many who do post them end up removing them eventually."

Palzkill said the three restaurants she has ownership interest in haven't decided what to do.

"We don't want to overreact, so I think we will sit back and try to speak to our customers to see what they think and what their perceptions are," she said. "If comments indicate they'd feel more comfortable with a sign, then we will consider that, but I believe for now we'll just try to be good listeners."

It currently is illegal in Eau Claire to carry a firearm into public buildings such as City Hall and L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, city attorney Stephen Nick said. The city is developing a new weapons policy that will be completed by the time the new law takes effect, Nick said.

At Spectrum Industries in Chippewa Falls, the company's safety handbook reads, "To minimize risk of injury, Spectrum does not allow weapons such as firearms or fixed blades on company premises."

Human resources director Laurie Klomstad said plans are under way to review the policy and possibly add more detail. There also are plans for posting the policy on signs on company property.

David Keating, vice president of corporate communications for General Growth Properties, said guns are not be allowed at Oakwood Mall. GGP owns and operates the Eau Claire retail outlet.

"As private businesses, we do not allow weapons on our properties," Keating said. "In the event a public safety or management team member believes that an individual is in possession of a weapon, local law enforcement will be contacted to handle the situation appropriately."

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Marlaire can be reached at 715-833-9215, 800-236-7077 or liam.marlaire@ecpc.com .

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Copyright (c) 2011, The Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis./Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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