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Have Gun, Not in Condo

Both vintage and modern upscale condominiums a...Some condo owners in Chicago’s Lakeview community are concerned that the interpretation of the new conceal carry law will violate their constitutional right to have guns in their own homes.[pullquote]

“Our folks really don’t want guns in their buildings,” Fisher said. “It only takes one or two firearms to cause danger for everyone in the building.”


The 168-page conceal carry legislation fails to mention specifically whether or not permit holders can carry concealed in a condo or if a condo owner has the right to bear arms in their own home.

One condo resident Nancy McAndrew, of the 2650 Lakeview building, said she feels condo associations were totally left out of the legislation.

“[The law] was poorly written because these are people’s homes,” McAndrew said.

Diversey Harbor Lakeview Condo Association was founded in 1996, as a coalition of leadership in the community’s high-rise neighborhood, with condos in both the 43rdand 44th wards.

Gene Fisher,Diversey Harbor’s Executive Director,oversees the association’s 35 condo buildings in both the Lincoln Park and Lakeview neighborhood, including McAndrews’ home.

Out of the 11,000 residents, Fisher said many have come to him and asked how the new law will be handled on the association’s property.

Fisher said he plans to prohibit firearms in the large residential complexes to ensure public safety and is what his residents are asking for.

“Our folks really don’t want guns in their buildings,” Fisher said. “It only takes one or two firearms to cause danger for everyone in the building.”

McAndrew said she feels her neighborhood is safe and doesn’t know why someone who lives in Lakeview would need a gun. As a condo association board member McAndrew said she feels Fisher is looking out for public safety by limiting the risks to all condo residences.

However, Fisher isn’t the one to decide the ban for each building or to make the final decision. Fisher said he has presented his action plan for building managers to consider the firearm prohibition at their building.

“I can present the plan, but it is up to the leaders of the building to decide,” Fisher said.“Some will adopt it, some won’t.”

The action plan Fisher presented, would allow building managers to place the “no guns” sign -a white index-card size sign that displays a firearm and red “x” through it on windows and doors to ban firearms. Fisher said the building manager’s have the right to place the sign on the front of their building to prohibit firearms.

No Guns.Ald. Michelle Smith (43rd) has complimented Diversey Harbor by calling it “an association of associations,” Fisher said, but when contacted about this issue, she did not want to comment.

This controversy is not only an issue in Illinois many states that have passed the conceal carry law have failed to include the rights for condominium owners, according to the law firm of Kovitz, Shifrin, and Nesbit.

“The impact of the new law on community associations and the ability to regulate firearms is unclear at this time,” according to the condo law firm.

Many people feel they should have the right to own and carry their gun concealed in their own home

Another resident, Jan Shaffrick, disagrees with Fisher because everybody has the right to bear arms and feels placing those “no guns” sign in the window, lets the bad guy know this residents are unarmed.

“I’d like to be able to defend myself, I don’t want to be a victim,” Shaffrick said. Shaffrick plans to obtain her conceal and carry permit in the near future to be able to protect herself, but not if her building decides to prohibit the firearms on its property.

“It’s pretty silly; if I couldn’t bring it into my home, somebody is prohibiting my right to bear arms,” Shaffrick said.

David Rudolph, a real estate lawyer with a lot of experience with condominium associations, said he feels the association is going beyond the conceal carry law and is attempting to infringe on the rights of gun owners.

Rudolph said he understands the association wanting to protect the common areas, like the laundry room, the park, or even the condominium’s community center.  But Rudolph said he doesn’t think the association has the right to ban the carrying of firearms in a person’s home.

“You can’t take a person’s constitutional right away even if you’re a condominium association,” said Illinois State Rifle Association’s Executive Directo Richard Pearson.

Pearson said each permit holder has passed about 14 background checks, some done by the FBI, and has been proven not to be a threat to public safety.

“They can ban firearms if there are risks involved with other people in their units,” said DePaul University’s International Human Rights Expert Alberto Coll.

In this case, the residents are voicing their concerns to Fisher and as the director of the association Fisher says he is attempting to protect the lives of 11,000 residents by prohibiting conceal carry firearms.

As an experienced human rights advocate, Coll said he doesn’t believe the association is infringing on the right to bear arms.

“I think condominium associations have significant leeway in regulating activities that relate to protection and safety,” Coll said.

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