Concealed-carry bill expected to become law, but getting a permit could take months

News-DemocratJuly 8, 2013 

A bill allowing Illinoisans to carry guns in public is expected to become law Tuesday, but getting your hands on a concealed-carry permit will likely take months.

If the Illinois State Police uses all of the time allotted to put the program in place, it could be nine months before the first applicant has a permit in hand.

The legislation calls for permit applications to be available from ISP within 180 days of the law taking effect. When an application is submitted, ISP has 90 days to issue a permit.

"We're going to make every effort to meet the deadlines," said Monique Bond, spokeswoman for the State Police.

Valinda Rowe, a spokeswoman for IllinoisCarry.org, which supports concealed-carry, is optimistic that ISP won't need the full nine months to start issuing permits.

"We think realistically, between going through the training and having ISP set up the program, we're looking at four to six months before the first licenses are issued," Rowe said.

But ISP's track record on meeting deadlines for issuing gun permits is not stellar. By law, the agency is supposed to approve or reject an application for a regular gun permit, known as a Firearm Owner's Identification Card, within 30 days.

Rowe said it's common for FOID applications to take much longer than 30 days.

"You might get it in two weeks, you might get it in three months," Rowe said.

Bond acknowledged that the 30-day FOID deadline isn't always met.

"Considering the number of applications that come through the office, and the number of resources that we have, sometimes it's a challenge for us to meet some of those demands," she said.

Rowe said she's hopeful the concealed-carry permit process won't suffer the same delays as the FOID process.

"The State Police knew this was coming, because the court had ruled that our law was unconstitutional," Rowe said. "We may run into that problem, but part of the reason for the FOID situation is that the state is broke, and the governor refuses to appropriate more funding for the FOID situation. But there was funding provided in the bill for the concealed-carry licensing program, so they should have the startup funding to have the people there in place, on board, ready to go."

Another deadline in the bill involves the training required for a permit. Applicants must complete 16 hours of training, including classroom and range instruction. Within 60 days of the law taking effect, ISP has to begin approving certified firearms instructors and firearm training courses.

ISP is estimating that at least 300,000 people will apply for a concealed-carry permit in the first year the law is in effect.

Bond said ISP is "going to need additional resources -- we've already made that clear in our budget request."

She added, "I think it's one of those scenarios that's going to be very fluid. It's new. I think when or if the program gets under way, we'll be in a better position to gauge the response."

QUINN PREDICTS 'SHOWDOWN'

Gov. Pat Quinn says he's ready for a "showdown" in Springfield over concealed-carry legislation.

The Chicago Democrat has spent days making appearances talking up his sweeping changes to a bill that'd make Illinois the last state to allow concealed weapons.

He urged the same Monday after signing two bills dealing with gang-related crime on Chicago's West Side, saying lawmakers shouldn't "override common sense" set out in his proposal.

"There will be a showdown in Springfield," he told the crowd.

But lawmakers are expected to override Quinn's changes when they meet Tuesday in Springfield. If the override succeeds, the bill becomes law immediately.

Both chambers were set to meet Tuesday and legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle expected to caucus before an anticipated vote to override Quinn.

A sponsor of the bill, state Rep. Brandon Phelps, said Quinn's late changes put Illinois at risk of "going off the cliff" and not meeting the July 9 deadline.

"Why would the governor want to put people in that predicament?" the Harrisburg Democrat asked. "That's the problem with what's he's doing. I don't think he understands what he's doing."

Illinois must comply with a federal appeals court deadline after the state's ban on concealed carry was ruled unconstitutional in December. The original bill, which came out of months of negotiation, would allow the Illinois State Police to issue a concealed carry permit to a gun owner with a Firearm Owners Identification card who passes a background check, pays a fee and undergoes training.

The bill passed both the House and Senate with the support of more than the three-fifths majorities needed to override Quinn's changes.

There's little agreement about what will happen if there's no law by Tuesday. Some say it means that anyone can carry a gun anywhere, others say it will prompt local municipalities to enact their own ordinances.

The bill is House Bill 183.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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