No Weapons Signs

No weapons signage and the law
No Concealed Weapons Signs
Laws about carrying weapons vary more widely from state to state than almost any other widely legislated issue. The law can be a tangled morass – which is why it's so important to find out exactly how the law treats no weapons signs where you live before you hang one up and expect results!

Since weapon laws vary from state to state, the effect of posting a no weapons sign within a business will vary as well. If you're considering a sign for your property, first consult your state's law to determine whether no weapons signage is recognized.

There are certain states, such as California, where no weapons signage is not officially backed by state law. In such cases, the signs are only enforceable within very specific situations. For example, posting a no weapons sign has the force of law when posted on property that is specifically off limits to those with a permit or license to carry a weapon (e.g. state capitals, guns shows, public places while masked).

On the other hand, there are certain states where no weapons signage is backed by the law. If you live in one of these states, it is still important for you to take into consideration the specifics of the law, since there's plenty of variance from state to state.

States may have different requirements regarding where no weapons signage must be displayed in order to be enforceable by law. The law may require specific placement, as is the case in Tennessee, where signs must be posted at all entrances.

Alternatively, a state may have a more general requirement, such as placement in a "conspicuous location accessible to the general public," as is the case in Arizona. Some states have additional provisions protecting violators who may not have seen the posted signage, for example, if the notice was posted less than 30 days before the violation.

States may also have different requirements for a sign's wording. While a general statement that weapons are not permitted will most often suffice, certain states may require more specific language. Arizona, for example, requires that signs prohibiting the possession of firearms must state that they are doing so "pursuant to [Arizona law] section 4-229." Tennessee has a similar provision that requires specific language, but it also gives the sign owner the ability to post a pictogram as an alternative.

Beyond the wording requirements, some states go as far as mandating how the message is actually displayed. In Minnesota, there are requirements detailing the color of the signs (black font on a "bright contrasting background") as well as the font size and style ("arial typeface at least 1-1/2 inches in height").

While weapon laws are most commonly associated with firearms, most of the state laws cover more than just guns. It is important to understand how the term "weapon" is defined in each state.

In Tennessee, weapons include actual and hoax firearms, knives, and anything capable of inflicting serious bodily harm that "has no common lawful purpose." As no weapons provisions differ from state to state, so do the legal ramifications of violating such laws. Some states hold that violating such a sign is an offense in itself. Such is the case in Tennessee, where possession of a weapon on posted property is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $500. Other states hold that violating a posted "no weapons" sign can result in a heightened charge of criminal trespass.

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