Concealed-carry permit applications in Illinois have been declining since the program began in 2014, according to the Illinois State Police.
While 104,000 Illinois residents applied for the permits when the program started in 2014, the ISP said only 82,000 individuals applied last year and only 32,930 had been received by July 2017, the Illinois News Network reported.
Illinois State Rifle Association executive director Richard Pearson suspects the decline is largely to do with the high prices of permits, which run $150 for five years. Pearson also noted that low-priced guns are hard to find in the Land of Lincoln, which only decreases the likelihood of gun owners on tight budgets applying for concealed-carry permits.
“By the time you get your permit, get your firearm and get your training you’re probably in the $800 to $900 range, at the very low end of it,” Pearson said.
While the application rate has declined, some 253,00 resident have active concealed-carry permits, and Pearson said he bets that number will continue to rise overall.
“By the time we get to the five-year period, we’ll get to the 300,000 we’re looking at,” Pearson said.
Since Illinois law prohibits concealed firearms in so many places, people will be less eager to apply for the permits, Pearson noted. He also argued gun-free zones only encourage criminals to commit more crimes in those areas, as they know law-abiding gun owners aren’t allowed to carry in such places.
Pearson said he hoped more people would apply for the permits, as the training teaches them how to safely handle firearms, information they can pass to family and friends.
“You’re probably looking at a million people in Illinois who got their firearm safety education because a friend or a family member went to the class,” Pearson said. “That really helps spread gun safety throughout the state.”