Recently, Illinois became the final state to adopt conceal carry laws to authorize gun owners to obtain a permit to carry their firearm on their person.  This new legislation has again sparked the debate relating to gun control in relation to community associations and the extent to which associations may adopt rules to restrict guns within the community.

As has been reported numerous times, homeowner association meetings can, at times, become emotionally charged.  These highly emotional meetings lead to complaints of harassment, assault and in extreme cases even shootings.  In 2012, a Kentucky association meeting ended in violence when an owner in a longstanding dispute with the Association attended a meeting and shot two board members.   In a recent article appearing in the Chicago Tribune, 1,314 respondents participated in a 2012 national survey conducted by the Community Association Institute and of those responding,  52% reported having been threatened with physical violence.   While this is of pronounced concern, is this a cause for banning concealed guns in an association?  If so, how far can these bans go?

One side of the debate claims that by allowing owners to carry a weapon at association meetings, when the meetings get heated, the existence of a gun will only exacerbate the situation and turn a heated argument into a fatal one.  The counter argument, of course, relies on the fact that owners with concealed carry permits have been thoroughly screened and vetted by the state and that these owners are responsible gun owners and would actually make the meeting safer knowing that there are potentially other guns within the meeting room.  The pro-gun side also contends that none of the shootings involved concealed weapons, but rather owners that had not been vetted and simply hid their guns because they were not permitted to carry a gun.

While it is clear that an association can adopt rules to prohibit owners from carrying guns in common areas or while attending meetings, the question becomes does it make a difference?   I would argue that no, it does not.  As quoted in the Chicago Tribune article, Illinois attorney Stuart Fullett stated, “Realistically, you shouldn’t even know if someone is carrying. “  As the name implies, it is concealed carry.  You should not even know who may have a gun and unless the association plans on installing metal detectors at the entrance of a meeting, the existence of a gun will not be known.

As the debate on gun control continues, some states will carry on towards trying, finding and adopting legislation that controls guns.  However, as was experienced in Colorado, with the recall of two legislatures and a forced resignation of a third over their support of gun control, responsible gun owners will take a stand to protect the “second amendment right.” While the association may have the ability to ban fire arms in the community, practically speaking, it would be nearly impossible to enforce thus, leading to a situation in which the association can do very little in relation to gun control. 

David A. Firmin
5 responses to “Concealed Carry Permits and the Community Association – Is there cause for concern?
  1. “Illinois became the final state to adopt concealed carry laws…” Really? The FINAL state? Don’t you mean the “latest” state, or “most recent” state to adopt these laws?

    And, putting “second amendment right” in quotes seems pejorative. I doubt that an HOA can ban firearms in the community. It seems more reasonable to assert that the HOA can restrict carry from meetings and HOA-sanctioned events.

  2. I would like to see this as an issue for each CIC to handle as it sees fit, without governmental meddling, and not make it an argument over the Second Amendment or “gun rights.” But yes, every CIC can ban whatever it wants, so long as the ban meets the criteria for rules enactment. If a CIC can ban smoking, then surely it can ban guns. A CIC can always adopt policies & rules that are more stringent than those adopted by any governmental agency, and can even institute bans that, in the public arena, would be considered unconstitutional. CICs are governed by the covenants, not the Constitution, because they are PRIVATE, not public entities, and the legislative body of a CIC is the executive board, not the Legislature, except in cases when it has enacted legislation specifically aimed at “controlling” CICs (which is far-too often, in my opinion). I have always advocated that the CICs I manage make a rule banning the discharge of weapons in the common area, and that they not worry about the pretense of “self-defense” inside a home. In that case, when the bullet goes through the wall and kills the next-door neighbor, guess who gets to go to jail? In actuality, this has never been a problem, as so-few people actually seem to own guns in CICs, but I guess George Zimmerman’s HOA would beg to differ. Yet and still, imagine how much better it would have been if someone had not allowed residents to discharge weapons in the common area! Either that, or we can throw our hands up in the air, let people have as-many guns as they wish and discharge them whenever the spirit moves them. Then those with the guns would all shoot each other, and the rest of the community could go on living peacefully. Oh, except for those few innocents who might be “caught in the crossfire,” but I understand those are considered a necessary consequence of allowing people to own guns. Since when does any state thoroughly screen and vet gun owners, and in whose opinion are they considered “responsible?” Ah, therein lies the problem. And George Zimmerman, mentally ill as he is, still patrols the streets and menaces his “girlfriend” with guns. But enforcement of any regulation is a problem, because it would always be done after the injury or death has been inflicted.
  3. While I understand that most people on this blog would just pass over the the statement “While it is clear that an association can adopt rules to prohibit owners from carrying guns in common areas or while attending meetings,…”, nothing could be further from the truth. Just because a homeowner signed a “contract” to obey the CC&Rs does not mean that the HOA can violate the Constitution. I await information on the first time an HOA attempts to do so. OR, perhaps someone can cite a case where an HOA did so.

    I agree metal detectors seem to be the only solution. The real solution is to have a Board that can keep meetings from getting out of hand or suspend a meeting that is getting out of hand and then find the real problem, not just the emotional one.

  4. I noticed that in the article it is being assumed that if you have a permit to carry a concealed weapon which all you have to do is take a class and pass a background check to get one, they are assuming that you are a responsible person and will never do any harm, get upset, or use your gun in any harmful way. Unfortunately that is not always what happens, guns are used by people at times when they are passionately angry, upset, and at times neighbors in HOA meetings and after meetings can get very upset. Guns rarely calm things down, especially when more than one person draws them. Recently a retired cop shot a person in a theatre. What is best, and what your rights are at an HOA meeting could be two different things. You might feel safer having your gun on you, but the person sitting next to you might not if they consider you a hot head. Living in Colorado I do not feel that our sheriffs should of fought for everyone to have access to AK 47’s and the such, I guess they wanted job security. We lost great democrats serving us because of them standing up for the rights of people who want background checks and their children and loved ones alive. So while keeping your right to bear arms, which at the times that was written you needed a gun for food, and to care for yourself. The only reason you need a gun these days is for hunting and for protection for your home, you do not need to take it with you to a meeting, to a bar, to a family gathering, etc. You might feel safer and stronger with your gun strapped to your hip, but how do you feel if you don’t have one and a person comes in that you know does not care for you, or think like you and they come into a meeting your at acting full of themselves and you know they always have a gun on them. Maybe no gun in some places is best. I recently saw a sign: To win a war you have to first start one. Maybe it is best to use diplomacy because everyone in the room has rights, not just you. If no one in the room has a gun then no one can shoot anyone. So yes maybe the best rule is no guns in most places except where they are supposed to be, because then if you see one you know to report it.
  5. Let’s assume a Colorado HOA may ban gun possession and discharge, not only on its common areas, but on individual member’s private property. What would be the HOA’s responsibility and potential liability if it failed to undertake steps to safeguard the members it just disarmed? Assume a home invasion results in the death of both parents of minor children. How much general liability insurance do you think would be needed to cover the HOA board’s litigation costs and ultimate liability? There’s a reason the Colorado constitution clearly provides for individual rights to possess a weapon. Before a knee-jerk HOA board tries to ban guns on private property, some serious thought needs to occur regarding the next, responsible steps.

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