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CUs react to Wisconsins new concealed-weapon law
MADISON, Wis. (11/14/11)--Wisconsin credit unions likely will chart their own paths in response to a state law that went into effect Nov. 1 allowing people who have obtained a concealed-carry license to carry a concealed weapon--such as a firearm--on them.

Most of the state's big banks don't intend to post signs prohibiting concealed firearms because of the difficulty in policing a ban on weapons for bank customers, said The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Nov. 6). Once posted, a bank must enforce the ban, and many banks have not finalized their approach.

That's true for some credit unions as well. "We have not finalized our conceal-and-carry policy right now," Rebecca Gerothanas, senior vice president of marketing at Summit CU in Madison, told News Now. "We will probably know in a week or so."

Other credit unions follow policies set by companies whose employees they serve. For instance, Aurora CU in Milwaukee is part of Aurora Health Care. "We follow the Aurora Health Care policy and  don't allow concealed weapons," Mary Pike, Aurora CU member service representative, told News Now. She said the credit union posts signs that indicate it forbids weapons on the premises.

"It's been a huge topic of discussion for us, and we haven't adopted a policy yet," Cathy Tierney, president/CEO of Community First CU in Appleton, told News Now. "We have a board meeting on Nov. 28 and I will go to the board with a recommendation to post [signs prohibiting concealed weapons]. I'm sure the board will accept the recommendation.

"A lot of credit unions and the Credit Union National Association have been discussing this a lot," she added. "Some people in the northern part of the state gave negative feedback on banning concealed weapons because there are a lot of hunters up there. Our employees wanted us to post. Out of 300-plus employees, only a handful didn't want us to post."

The other factor to posting is immunity. "My understanding is that if a credit union or any organization does not post, there is supposedly immunity under the law if something happens, such as someone getting injured or killed,' Tierney said. "You're immune from having responsibility. If you do post, you may give up your immunity--the question is what are you doing to monitor and make sure."

However, immunity is an untested concept, according to Community First's attorney, she added. "Until there is case law that really clearly defines it, it is a risk-reward situation," Tierney said.

Each credit union will have to determine what is best for it in terms of its policies regarding members coming into branches with concealed weapons, Chris Henzig, director of communications for the Wisconsin Credit Union League, told the Journal Sentinel.

"We don't advise [credit unions] one way or another," Henzig told the newspaper. "From what I know, different ones are going different directions on it."

Wisconsin is the 49th state to have a concealed weapons law, and it hasn't created many problems elsewhere, the paper said.

Many credit unions and banks in several states already ban hats, hoods and sunglasses to help thwart robberies.


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