The signs are posted at Wauwatosa City Hall, 5-by-7-inch stickers on the glass of every entrance door, with some paper signs inside as well, such as at the entrance to the City Clerk's office.
As Wisconsin's concealed weapons carry law went into effect Tuesday, all city-owned buildings became exempt and prohibited under ordinance. Wauwatosa also banned weapons at certain special events in public areas such as Hart Park, but only at fenced, gated, admission-charging venues.
Mayfair Mall, with 16 million visits a year the largest retail center in the region, also imposed a weapons ban, as did other area shopping malls.
Courts and schools were already weapons-banned, along with many other publicly owned buildings. All taverns and restaurants holding Class B liquor licenses were already subject to weapons bans and will continue to be.
So, besides walking and driving around, just where do state and municipal laws allow a licensed carrier to take a weapon?
The answer, by and large, is into private businesses and institutions – besides those at Mayfair – including stores, diners, commercial and professional offices and many others. These are the places we all traffic in day-to-day life and commerce, and Wauwatosa is a metropolitan hub of such activities.
That's what led Meg McKenna, executive director of the Wauwatosa Chamber of Commerce, to schedule three recent seminars for business people leading up to Day One – the feeling that concealed carry, once it leaves the streets and sidewalks, is primarily a concern for her business constituents.
A key provision of the law grants immunity from liability to those who do not impose weapons bans, while those who do prohibit are considered responsible for harm that takes place on their premises.
"There was a full feeling of concern" at the seminars, McKenna said. "Business people felt their discretion had been interfered with. Businesses had pretty much been left alone; this law reaches out and grabs them.
The immunity clause "messes with their own discussion," McKenna said. "It imposes a must-do thing on them – if you don't allow this, you can be held responsible for actions that aren't your own.
"Businesses don't want to be political. They just want to know what to do. They are risk-averse. When a law implies that there's exposure, you may have to act against what you thought were your own best interests."
An important phrase in that statement is "when a law implies." McKenna does not believe the new law offers anything like absolute immunity, and she is not alone.
"Every lawyer agrees that it's unclear," she said – and there were four of them at just one of her seminars.
"You can bring a suit to pierce immunity, and under the right circumstances, you will," McKenna said. "If there's a blood bath on your premises, did you do everything reasonable to prevent it or stop it, or did you just stand by? It is not absolute, and lawyers and law students are going to have a ball with it."
As for the business people who attended the three seminars, McKenna said, "They were doing their best to think this through and do the right thing. The trouble is knowing what the right thing is."
For few types of businesses does that conundrum strike home so clearly as for one that is almost by definition a microcosm of metropolitan and cosmopolitan commerce – the large innkeeper.
Rose Murack, the general manager of the Radisson Hotel Milwaukee West, 2303 North Mayfair Rd., thought she knew what that best thing was going into the process.
"The first instinct is to ban them. Your first thought, immediately, is 'I don't want employees carrying guns,'" Murack said. "We came in thinking we would (ban weapons), but after going through it, we've decided against it.
"Things were confusing at the beginning. But after many discussions with our lawyers, we realized, once you do post, you take on so much responsibility.
"I was asked, 'In all the other 48 states that already allow concealed carry, do you ever see a sign on a hotel or restaurant banning weapons?'
"My reply was, 'No, I do not.' Another general manager in another state told me, 'You're looking at it the wrong way. The bad people are already carrying guns. On Nov. 1, nothing changes.'"
John Marko, the general manager of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 10499 Innovation Dr., said that his company was still reviewing the law and planning on attending more seminars before making a final decision.
"We want to do the right thing, for our guests – our patrons – and our associates," he said. "We want to do it with proper knowledge and not do it hastily."