Should You Respect a “No Guns Allowed” Sign?

Suppose the coffee shop you like to hit before work puts up a sign which says guns are unwelcome on their property. Are you at risk legally if you choose to ignore the sign?

The short answer is, yes, you can be held accountable for ignoring the sign. Private property owners have the right to exclude anyone they want. And just like you might expect with your own home, business owners have the right to refuse admittance to anyone legally carrying a concealed handgun.

Wisconsin has requirements for these signs in order for them to be properly displayed to the public. If a business or organization wants to prohibit firearms on the property, the sign must be positioned:

“… in a prominent place near all of the entrances to the part of the building (event, or land) to which the restriction applies or near all probable access points to the grounds to which the regulation applies and the individual entering the building or grounds can be reasonably expected to see the sign.”

Additionally, Wisconsin details that the sign must be at least 5” X 7” and must, “… inform people that weapons or firearms are prohibited. There are a number of messages that would meet the standard and the ultimate purpose of the sign is to put individuals on notice of the prohibition or limitation.”

This means that the sign’s wording only needs to be understandable that firearms are not welcome on the property.

A business or organization is not required to post a sign if they want to ban guns, they are allowed to give verbal notice if they desire. The following places must post a proper sign, however, if legally concealed firearms are prohibited:

  • Non single-family residences (e.g. apartment, condos, etc)
  • Non-residential buildings, state or governmental property or university or college
  • The grounds of a nonresidential building or land
  • Special events

So, what happens if you get caught? Generally, if it comes to the attention of business that you are carrying concealed, you are asked to depart the premises immediately. If you leave right away, police are unlikely to pursue the matter. If you refuse, however, you could be charged with criminal trespass.

The best course of action is to cast your most valuable ballot, and vote with your wallet. As much as you may like that venti soy latte, take your business elsewhere and support companies which are 2nd Amendment friendly. Read here for a list of companies who do not believe in the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

What if you own a business? Can you be held accountable for not banning guns carried by employees or customers?

It depends on the situation. But for the most part, no, unless there are special circumstances, you as a business owner cannot be held liable if someone is injured or killed on your property by a person with a CCW permit.

Wisconsin law provides immunity from prosecution for the following:

  • “A person who does not prohibit an individual from carrying a concealed weapon on property

that the person owns or occupies is immune from any liability arising from his or her

decision. Wis. Stat. § 175.60(21)(b).

  • An employer who does not prohibit one or more employees from carrying a concealed

weapon is immune from any liability arising from that decision. Wis. Stat. § 175.60(21)©.

  • A person providing a firearms training course in good faith is immune from liability from

any act or omission related to the course if the course is one of the courses listed in

statute. Wis. Stat. § 175.60(21)(d).”

Now for the disclaimer: I am not currently, nor do I intend to become a lawyer. Seek out your own expert opinion in the law. If you have information that can clarify or reform the article, please feel free to leave a comment below so it can be addressed.

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  1. Brad on November 27, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    BS ! Put up a “No Blacks or Gays allowed inside” ….. tell me what happens .

    • Riley on March 14, 2020 at 1:19 pm

      Why would you want to put a sign like that up?

    • Jayme on March 13, 2021 at 1:07 pm

      As if that’s a related issue? 😂😂

  2. Bill on November 27, 2019 at 10:34 pm

    Probably not the right answer but I would still conceal carry. If it’s not a government building/school, I still conceal carry. No chance of it being seen, it’s not an issue

  3. Allen on November 28, 2019 at 6:17 am

    If I were to be injured by an individual who enters a place of business with the intent to do harm. Yet I have been unarmed by the property owners sign and he provides no security after the fact. Is the said property owner not liable for what has taken place to me? He did not allow me to protect myself and he didn’t either? Also for the sake of this argument, let’s say it’s a place of business that provides a service I need, not a coffee shop I could just not go to.

    • Winter Westfield on June 15, 2020 at 3:20 pm

      Very good question! I’d like to know that too!

  4. Jacob Zimmerman on January 25, 2021 at 12:39 pm

    I’ve been trying to double check this in several places, but haven’t seen anything that suggests it’s explicitly stated in the laws, and it relates to what Allen wrote.

    In my CCW course, the instructor talked about how his son had been caught carrying – I believe he even used it in defense – in a store that prohibited firearms. The store sued him, but he won with the defense that the store didn’t have anything in place to protect the customers.

    So, my question is: are businesses that declare their places to be a gun free zone liable for the protection of the customers?

  5. Ryan Chatfield on May 24, 2021 at 1:00 am

    These signs can actually make the business owners more liable if employees or customers are assaulted or killed. I refuse to support any business, if the business doesn’t support my rights as an American law abiding citizen.

  6. ma-jo on October 24, 2022 at 8:53 pm

    if the facility is public funded (ie public schools) , our first and second amendment rights can not be taken away with a ‘no firearms’ sign

  7. Bird dogger on February 10, 2024 at 3:32 pm

    In the event that something did break out in a business that posts no carry signs, the business should be held accountable if someone is injured for NOT allowing you to protect yourself! Let that sink in…

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