CRYSTAL LAKE The McHenry County College Board of Trustees considered stricter concealed carry laws Thursday, potentially adding provisions to the state's ban of firearms on campuses.
Under the concealed carry law passed by the Illinois Legislature over the summer, all firearms are banned on college campuses. But lawmakers also gave authority to individual colleges to draft policies on concealed carry in college-issued vehicles; establishing "safe harobor" parking lots; disciplining violaters of the law; and reporting methods for students presenting a "clear and present" danger.
The law takes effect Jan. 1, but the state does not expect to start issuing permits until April.
Trustees addressed all four issues in the proposed policy. Trustees agreed to ban firearms from being carried in college-owned vehicles except for law enforcement officers excluded from the law. They also require gun owners to properly store their unloaded firearm in their vehicles out of sight in a secure and closed container before entering any campus facility. Firearms – even unloaded and stored properly – cannot be located in any vehicle parked in lot C or D.
Woodstock resident Gus Philpot said he saw no reason for limiting any parking lots as they are relatively the same distance to the facilities.
"The state law is pretty clear," he said. "It reads the licensee can carry into any of the parking areas [at a prohibited building]. I can't see any reason to prohibit it."
Trustee Cynthia Kisser said those lots were closest to the day care center and they did not want parents or children to think there was a threat by seeing people walk out of their car with a gun to secure it in the trunk.
The board agreed to include a detailed procedure on how reporting of those deemed a "clear and present" danger would unfold before voting on the policy at the January meeting. Those found to be a "clear and present" danger to themselves or others would ultimately be reported to the state police.
Trustee Chris Jenner said he did not care about any changes to the policy because he did not support the policy at all. He said the college should have its lobbyist push for the law to be changed so law-abiding, licensed gun owners could have a firearm with them.
"Signs and policies do not stop gun violence," Jenner said. "Mass shootings happen in gun-free zones."
Chairman Ron Parrish encouraged the public to provide as much feedback as possible in the next 30 days before the board convenes for its January meeting to vote. Trustees' contact information can be found at www.mchenry.edu.
"I have been to the county, I have been to several municipalities and I have done a plethora of research," Parrish said. "I can tell you it's a very, very difficult issue."