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Illinois officials send out state's first concealed-carry gun permits
AP

Illinois officials send out state's first concealed-carry gun permits

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America’s last statewide gun ban is being mailed out of existence starting now.

Illinois State Police announced Friday they have begun mailing the first state concealed-carry licenses for approved applicants. They have 5,000 licenses printed and ready to go, the first trickle in a deluge of applications expected to approach 400,000 this year alone.

It’s the final act in a years-long drama during which Illinois anti-gun advocates managed to keep the state’s last-in-the-nation public gun ban on the books, until a federal court ordered them to take it off.

Lawmakers complied last year and sent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, a gun-control advocate, a bill that is more generally stringent than Missouri’s law, but does require the state to issue a permit to anyone who passes the approval process.

The response among would-be gun carriers has exceeded what even proponents of the new law expected.

“We’ve had classes every weekend (since late last year) and some weekdays and every class has been filled,” said Amy King, co-owner of Metro Shooting Supplies in Belleville, which offers the training course required for applicants to receive the licenses.

She estimates about 700 people have gone through the course at that location alone. And Illinois State Police list more than 2,000 approved trainers for courses statewide.

The roughly 5,000 licenses that started going out Friday are for applicants who have completed all the training, criminal background checks and other regulations. “By next week, they will be getting the licenses in the mail,” said State Police spokeswoman Monique Bond.

More than 40,000 additional applications are pending. Based on the pace of applications, officials predict the 2014 total of applicants will be between 300,000 and 400,000.

Not all those applicants will be approved. The required background checks can disqualify some applicants for criminal records, and there is also an objection phase in which local enforcement can raise the issue of whether the applicant poses a danger to himself or herself, or is a threat to public safety. There is an appeal process for applicants who are rejected.

Bond said state police have denied about 300 applications so far, and an additional 800 or so are under review because of objections by local law enforcement. No one has yet appealed a rejection.

King, the Belleville shooting supply story co-owner, said customers are taking the bureaucratic obstacle course in stride. “They are anxious for it to be fully implemented, but they understand there have to be procedures in place,” she said.

Illinois requires 16 hours of training for applicants, the highest in the country and twice that of Missouri.

A five-year Illinois permit costs $150 for Illinois residents and $300 for out-of-state residents, including Missourians. Missouri’s permit fee, in contrast, tops out at $100. Unlike Missouri, Illinois won’t honor other states’ concealed-carry permits.

More detailed information about the application process is available at the Illinois State Police website, at:

http://goo.gl/HAa2k5.

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