By Benjamin Yount | Illinois Watchdog
SPRINGFIELD — The wait keeps getting longer for Illinois residents who want to carry a gun.
In July, Illinois finally became the 50th state to allow people to carry concealed weapons. But it will be January before the Illinois State Police will accept concealed-carry applications; April before anyone gets a permit.
“The Illinois State Police originally told us (applications would be accepted) Jan. 1, now they’ve backed it up to around Jan. 10 because they’re not ready,” Ron Darnall, owner of Darnall’s Gun Range outside of Bloomington, said Monday. “We understand now, instead of March, it’s going to be April before the first cards are sent out.”
Darnall is among the hundreds of firearms instructors authorized by the Illinois State Police to teach residents about the state’s new law.
“There are 900 instructors and 500 curriculums,” said state Rep. Brandon Phelps, the Democrat author of the concealed-carry law. “I am excited about how the State Police are handling this.”
Phelps said fingerprints will be the biggest factor in determining eligibility.
“If (the State Police) have to manually check each set of fingerprints, they’re going to have to check each name,” Phelps said.
The State Police are pushing people to submit fingerprints electronically.
State Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said, “Obviously electronic fingerprints are going to be a little more efficient,” but Bond didn’t want to “speculate” on how long any part of the process will take.
It will be months before anyone carry a pistol in Illinois. Bond and Darnall say gun owners should use the time to get the required 18 hours of training.
“They just give us an outline of what they want us to teach,” Darnall said. “So, each (curriculum) us going to vary a little bit.”
Bond said the variances will give instructors “flexibility” in teaching concealed carry.
Darnall some details are pending, including how many times someone can take — and fail — either the written or shooting test.
But Darnall insists he won’t let people fail incessantly.
“We’re not going to issue a card to someone that we don’t feel comfortable with,” Darnall said.
Contact Benjamin Yount at BYount@Watchdog.org and find him on Twitter @BenYount.