Often law is decided in Illinois through the courts, especially when it comes to gun law. This is what is commonly referred to as case law. Illinois Gun owners have regained some lost gun freedoms through various court rulings. And now, we have another court ruling in Illinois. Ameren vs IBEW, and the Vehicle Parking Lot Exemption. But have Illinois gun owners regained any lost rights?
First let us gain an understanding of the vehicle parking lot exemption, and what that means. For concealed carry licensees, those approximately 300,000 Illinois residents who may legally carry firearms in public, we are not allowed to carry firearms everywhere. In those instances that a concealed carry licensee may come across a gun free zone, licensees are given the option leaving their firearm within a locked vehicle (exclusions, such as federally prohibited areas, apply).
A common question among Illinois gun owners is, “If my employer has a policy against firearms, and I keep the firearm in my vehicle, can I be arrested?”
A common question among Illinois gun owners is, “If my employer has a policy against firearms, and I keep the firearm in my vehicle, can I be arrested?” The standard answer was, “You probably wont be arrested, but you can be fired.” This is exactly what occurred at Ameren, Illinois.
One employee was having differences with his supervisor. Also, this same employee had disclosed to his coworkers, that he has a concealed carry licensee. These coworkers told the employer. The employer searched the concealed carry licensee’s vehicle, and the employee was fired for violation of company policy.
A time line of events after the termination of employment…
- The terminated employee filed a grievance with his union IBEW Local 50, which went to binding arbitration. The arbitration part is important.
- The arbitrator sided with the employee based on the collective bargaining agreement, but did also cite Illinois Concealed Carry law (twice) as part of his judgement.
- Ameren disputed the arbitrators judgement. Illinois District court sided with Ameren.
- The employees union appealed to the federal 7th circuit court who sided with the arbitrator.
Ameren vs IBEW was Not a 2nd Amendment Case
Confused yet? Ameren vs IBEW was not a 2nd amendment gun rights case. This ruling was about labor law. The 7th circuit court simply ruled that the district court couldn’t reverse the arbitrators judgment, and that the arbitrators judgement was indeed binding. The court ruling was not that all employees may keep their firearms in their vehicles in accordance with state law without fear of termination.
Due to the manner in how this particular case progressed, it has not yet established case law on the subject of the vehicle parking lot exemption for employees. If you choose to keep a firearm within your vehicle against company policy, you still might be unjustly terminated for it.
So who is right? There is much evidence to suggest that had the employee and/or the employee’s union chose to fight the termination on constitutional grounds; the outcome would likely have been similar. But until that happens, we will still be guessing.
The Illinois Bar Association has stated that the Illinois Concealed Carry Licensing Act supersedes company policy. The Illinois State Police FAQ states that the owner of business cannot restrict storage of a firearm within a locked vehicle.