Rush is on for concealed-carry gun permits

The first of what is expected to be a wave of 400,000 applications for permits to carry concealed weapons in Illinois will flood the state police website this week as gun owners navigate requirements to obtain a permit and rules on when and where they can carry a gun.

In July, Illinois became the last state to approve a law allowing residents to carry a gun in certain public places. Anyone older than 21 with a valid firearm owners identification card and who has passed a background check and completed a 16-hour training class can obtain a permit for a $150 fee, under the new law.

Not everyone is pleased Illinois has joined the ranks of every other state in allowing concealed carry. The Stop Concealed Carry Coalition has vowed to continue statewide efforts to curb gun violence through its opposition to the new law.

“Guns are designed for one reason — to shoot people. More people will be shot and more people will be killed” as a result of people bringing guns into public places, contends Lee Goodman of Chicago, an organizer for Stop Concealed Carry.

But Twin City area gun suppliers and others see it differently.

Dan Smiley, owner of Smiley’s Sport Shop in Bloomington, has fielded questions for the past six months from customers eager to complete the eligibility requirements under the CCW law.

“Interest in the permits is high, but I think the application process is going to be confusing to a lot of people, at least in the beginning,” said Smiley, noting the state’s online application may be a challenge for people who lack computer skills.

Smiley and other CCW supporters argue the easy access criminals have to guns right now puts legal gun owners at a disadvantage outside their homes. The possibility that the person walking down the street next to you might be carrying a weapon may foster a greater sense of security for some people, he said.

“It will give a lot of people peace of mind that they’re safe. I don’t know if it will be safer, but it will make criminals question who might have a gun,” said Smiley.

State police will process the CCW application requests starting today, but scrutiny also will be conducted by local police agencies who can file objections to applications under the law.

“I view this process as a public safety issue. We will conduct our local checks on applicants and forward information that (Illinois State Police) may not have had access to,” said McLean County Sheriff Mike Emery. “We don’t want individuals receiving permits that may have information in their local records that would prohibit them from receiving a CCW license.”

Emery and many other law enforcement officers in the state are backers of the CCW law, evidence in part by the fact that the roster of state-certified trainers for concealed carry includes many current and former officers.

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