The South Porte Bank in Marion, Illinois, is not only allowing its employees to carry concealed handguns, they are letting everyone know they always have.
After a series of armed robberies in the area, including one at a nearby retail store, the bank is making the fact that they have had armed staff in the facility since it opened in 2011, become public knowledge.
In doing so, they have even hung signs on the institution’s entrances that proudly state, “This property protected by Smith and Wesson.”
“From the very beginning, to be honest we had some staff in this bank that was armed. We decided to change our strategy to make it a little more public now,” says South Porte Bank president Travis Clem. “You can put signs all over this building telling somebody not to rob us and use a gun but that doesn’t stop anybody from doing it.”
The change in policy came following a violent armed robbery of the First National Bank in Cairo. In that May 16 crime, a suspect with a long criminal record stabbed three female bank employees during the course of the robbery, killing two.
Clem said that the use of guns by tellers and other employees is for cases of last-resort self-defense only.
“I hope nobody ever uses one, that’s everybody’s hopes here,” explained Clem. “Just the presence of them will help us deter anybody trying to rob this place; but again if something happens and it’s bad and it goes wrong, it at least gives us options, and you know I’m like everybody else I want to go home at night safely.”
Bank employees are reportedly pleased with the policy, which also allows customers with permits to carry in the facility as well.
According to reports, both state and federal regulators approved the bank’s policy and South Porte is not the only bank to do so. Nearby Legions Bank in Eldorado also allows for lawful concealed carry by employees, now legal in Illinois.
In 2013, a Missouri bank employee retrieved a .357 caliber Smith and Wesson from his office and shot an armed subject in the jaw, foiling an attempted robbery. The employee held a valid state-issued concealed carry permit.
According to FBI crime statistics, in 2011 alone, more than $30 million was stolen and just over 100 people killed or injured in some 5,000 robberies of financial institutions reported across the nation.