CHICAGO — Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) is encouraging all businesses in her Lincoln Park ward to go "gun-free," according to a newsletter issued from her office Monday.
"I encourage all business owners to make your business establishments gun-free," Smith wrote. "Our neighborhood and businesses will best prosper when everyone — business owners, customers, and residents alike — feels they can walk the streets and shops of the 43rd Ward safely."
State Police began accepting applications for concealed-carry permits on Jan. 5.
Businesses may prohibit guns by displaying a State Police-approved sign that is at least 4 inches by 6 inches.
Earlier this month, the alderman issued a memorandum to businesses in her ward about the new law.
In it, she notes that in addition to it being illegal to carry guns into schools, government buildings and public transportation, it is also illegal to carry guns into any business in which alcohol constitutes at least half of all sales.
"Even though there have been rare gun incidents in our ward, I strongly believe we will all feel safer if the police are the armed legal personnel in our ward," Smith said in the newsletter.
An Illinois State Rifle Association policy statement on the issue said the group believed that "the official 'no guns allowed' sign actually declares 'No Self Defense Permitted Beyond this Point.'"
The association says that businesses that post such signs are "telling you point blank, 'I don't care if you and your family are in danger, I will not allow you to defend yourself.'"
Such signs, says the ISRA, "openly invites criminals to enter a business to commit mayhem" without the fear of facing an armed citizen and that the signs "give a distinct advantage to those who seek to harm others."