New Gun Concealment Law Affects Wisconsin CRE

July 28, 2011
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Earlier this month, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill into law giving citizens the right to carry a concealed weapon into most public buildings. While the law stipulates that a person must obtain a permit and undergo proper training in order to carry a concealed weapon, it also allows for public buildings to post signs prohibiting people from bringing concealed weapons onto the premises. The law, which will take effect in November, may influence the way in which future commercial leases within Wisconsin are structured.

Experts believe that many tenants may use the law as a bargaining chip in upcoming lease negotiations. In Wisconsin, as vacancy rates continue to rise, commercial tenants are in control of the negotiating process. If they choose, retailers may demand that the building owners or developers agree to post signs denying access to anyone with a concealed weapon. Many family-owned businesses are expected to ask for the stipulation, while corporate-run retailers may pass up the opportunity.

Some property owners are expected to adopt--and incorporate into their leases--a concealment policy of their own, while others will leave the decision up to the tenants.

For property owners, the question of liability may determine their policy. Under the new law, any person or employer who permits concealed weapons onto their property is awarded liability immunity. But building owners that post signs banning concealed weapons are not provided with the same exemption. So, while owners and tenants may be tempted to restrict concealed weapons due to safety concerns, liability risks may make them think twice.