In 2013 Illinois became the last state in the United States to allow the otherwise law abiding citizen to carry a concealed handgun. Since the passage of concealed carry in Illinois, it has become the law of the land, and has been in effect for one year. How has the landscape changed in Illinois? Is crime up/down, accidental shootings rampant? Or are citizens even going through the long expensive process set forth by a notoriously gun unfriendly administration?
January 2014 brought in nearly 35,000 applications from Illinois gun owners who wished to obtain their concealed carry license. Training classes were hard to get into, the number of NRA and Illinois approved trainers swelled to meet the demand. In the days and months since the numbers have dwindled to a few thousand applicants per month. What does this mean for the future of Illinois concealed carry? The future is bright!
With the mad rush for initial applicant gone, many of the fly by night trainers are gone, leaving Illinois with a long bright future for Illinois’ concealed carry program. Even though the expected numbers were not met, it comes as no surprise. Illinois State police formed expectations so that funding could be estimated. They excessively over estimated the number of applicants, by assuming all FOID card holders would apply within the first year. This gross overstatement was by design to get them the facilities to be able to exceed the demand which was way under estimated for the previous FOID program. FOID is regularly behind schedule and was never funded or expected to see the 2nd Amendment support from Illinois citizens.
Where does that leave us today? Illinois has over 90,000 lawful citizens who are carrying guns, Cook county leading the way with nearly 24,000 license holders. While crime statistics are not in for 2014, no significant changes are expected to be the result of concealed carry. With well below 1% of citizens licensed to carry, and many new to the way of life, changes are not likely in the short term.
Come spring 2015 the Illinois State police and Illinois trainers are getting ready for a surge of concealed carry applicants. After all many don’t think about getting outside to the range during the cold Illinois winters. The years to come will have much to bear with concealed carry. While concealed carry in Illinois has just begun, it’s also facing other problems like crime reporting statistics. Chicago police have been long suspected, and recently audited to have been cooking the books so to speak. Hopefully armed citizens and accurate crime reporting will lead to real change in a state deeply divided on the topic of gun rights.