The first batch of concealed carry permits has been delivered to Illinois residents. The last state in the nation to allow residents the right to carry was met by a delay in processing.
As of early March, about 5,000 of the first 46,000 to apply had received their licenses. Among them are the roughly 2,000 state-certified instructors who have been teaching the course since last year.
Officials believe around 400,000 Illinois residents will apply in its first year.
The backup appears to have been worked out.
The latest concern, however, centers on fraudulent instructors. Some already have had their privileges revoked, and more legislation is being written.
“There have been problems already reported with fly-by-night instructors who are losing their training certificates due to cutting corners,” NRA Certified Instructor Joshua Paul Harmon said, recommending that students demand proper training.
The Illinois House currently is reviewing Bill 4290, which amends the Firearm Concealed Carry Act, solely for deceptive practices.
Trainers who do not take their students through the 16-hour course are subjected to a non-probational, Class A misdemeanor — with a year of jail time.
Illinois State Police (ISP) will permanently revoke any unethical instructor’s certification if convicted of a violation that encompasses false certification of an applicant.
Students of a known fraudulent instructor will not be granted a CCL, will forfeit their $153 permit fee, as well as lose class and fingerprinting fees and may be subjected to further investigation by the ISP.
The curriculum of the course varies by instructor, although the state mandates 16 hours, carefully broken down with the core focus being on firearm safety.
Personal protection – selecting a good fit
There are a lot of factors that go into choosing the proper pistol and holster. Having a gun that is too large for your hand, or a holster too large to conceal properly, can cause unnecessary complications.
Harmon tells students, “You have to ask, ‘Is this a good fit ergonomically? Is the size or caliber sufficient for self-defense? Can it be controlled by the individual?’
“My recommendation is, choose the largest caliber you can conceal that you can safely and properly control.”
Exercising rights, with a right to know
Harmon has been teaching the course since last summer. He works with three other former military personnel, bringing their experience to the table. His course, Roughneck Combatives, teaches students “Just because you take a class, own a handgun and are licensed to carry, doesn’t mean that you are fully prepared.”
“This is the part of the class where people start asking if I am trying to discourage them from applying for the permit,” Harmon said. “I’m not, but I want everyone to realize, not everyone can deal with the ramifications even in a justified shooting of another human being.”
Delving into the legal consequences one can acquire, Harmon tells students, “Even if someone enters your home illegally; even in a justified shooting, you will have to legally defend yourself. You have to ask yourself if you can afford an attorney and court costs.
“Socially, you’ll have to answer to your family, friends and neighbors. Spiritually, emotionally and morally, you have to ask yourself, ‘Can I take another person’s life to save myself or my family?’ It is a huge responsibility.”
Aside from 16 hours of live training, applicants must carry a valid FOID (Firearm Owner’s Identification card) and must not be a felon or have been arrested five or more times in the past seven years.
Fingerprinting is not mandatory; however, those processed without Live-scan can take up to 120 days for turnaround.
States have different regulations
Each state has its own regulations for resident and non-residents. Illinois currently is not honoring permits issued elsewhere. Those covered under Illinois firearm permits are AK, AL, AZ, IN, ID, IA, KS, KY, MI, MO, MS, NC, OK, SD, TN, UT and VT.
Locations where permit holders are allowed to carry a handgun in Illinois are limited. Government buildings, schools and bars (with more than 50 percent gross alcohol sales) are among the no-gun zones.
Business and property owners are given the option, but must have proper signage in the main entry if they choose to restrict its customers from carrying concealed. ISP has a printable 4” X 4” sign available on its website.
Harmon said, “Even attending this course, it is still up to the individual to check current and local laws, each community can vary.”