Two-hundred and seventy days. That’s how long it is going to take before law-abiding gun owners will be allowed to carry concealed firearms in the Land of Lincoln under the state’s new concealed carry legislation.
For many Illinoisans, that wait is way too long, especially considering that a federal appeals court has already ruled that the state’s previous ban on concealed carry was unconstitutional.
Consequently, a group of gun rights advocates have decided to ask a federal court to start permitting residents to carry concealed starting next week.
Leading the charge was Mary Shepard, the main plaintiff in the initial lawsuit that overturned the statewide ban on CCW, and the Illinois State Rifle Association. Shepard and representatives from the ISRA filed a motion for an injunction Wednesday in the U.S. District Court claiming that lawmakers procrastinated and waited until the last minute to pass legislation legalizing concealed carry.
“The state’s proposed denial of Second Amendment rights for another 270 days is an unacceptable perpetuation of the state’s … infringement of Ms. Shepard’s and Illinois State Rifle Association members’ Second Amendment rights,” they said the court filing.
Shepard and the ISRA argued that there would be “no threat to public safety” if those possessing valid FOID cards, Firearms Owner Identification cards, were allowed to carry concealed because they have already passed a criminal background check, as CBS Chicago reported.
“Furthermore, plaintiffs are not asking for an unfettered right to carry firearms in public; rather, they are requesting an injunction that would allow them to carry firearms in a manner consistent with the limits imposed by … the Firearms Concealed Carry Act,” they went on to argue.
Under the new law, the Illinois State Police have six months to set up the CCW permit issuance system. Once the digital infrastructure is in place, state police will have 90 days to process each application from the day that it is submitted – hence, the anticipated 270-day delay.
Part of the process involves putting up a list of state certified firearms instructors on the department’s website, as the law requires one pass a background check or be in possession of a valid FOID card, successfully complete a 16-hour firearms safety and training course and pay a $150 fee.
Given that the details and requirements for the 16-hour firearms training and safety courses have not been completely fleshed out, some are expecting additional delays.
“I expect it to be the dead of winter before you see anything tangible,” David Price, a firearms instructor for the last 12 years in Madison County’s Granite City, told the Chicago Tribune.
There are also concerns that an overwhelming amount of CCW applications will bog down the system as well. State police estimate that they will receive 300,000 applications within the first year. Put quite simply, that’s a lot of paperwork to process.
On one hand, one could argue that Illinoisans have waited decades for a concealed carry bill to become law, so what’s another nine months or so.
But, on the other, this is Illinois were talking about, a state that has been — due to its Cook County leadership — historically unfriendly to gun owners and has, in fact, dithered on this issue. The General Assembly had since December 2012 to approve a CCW law. It took them until their court-ordered July deadline to get it done. Then, Gov. Pat Quinn invoked his amendatory veto power in a failed attempt to modify the bill at the last minute, which also prolonged the process.
Bottom line, Illinoisans have waited long enough. Starting next week, they should be allowed to carry concealed. But we’ll have to wait and see what the federal court says.