Q: How do I get a concealed-carry permit under the new law? What does it allow me to do that I can't do now?
A: This week's column will cover getting a concealed-carry license. Next week's will cover what that license allows.
The Firearm Concealed Carry Act that went into effect July 9 resulted from a court challenge to the Illinois law that made it "aggravated unlawful use of a weapon" to have any "uncased, loaded, and immediately accessible" firearm in public. The federal appellate court held that because the Second Amendment right to bear arms for self-defense "is as important outside the home as inside," there must be some kind of concealed carry. They gave the Legislature 180 days (plus a later 30-day extension) to correct the state law.
Part of the Concealed Carry Act creates a new exception to that old law. That exception lets you carry handguns, but only if you also carry the new, special license the law creates. The main part of the act then sets out the licensing process.
To get a concealed-carry license, you must: (1) apply; (2) pay $150; (3) meet the "qualifications for a license;" and (4) not pose a danger to yourself, others or public safety. (One might ask: What good is concealed carry, unless it poses a danger to others?)
You apply to the state police. But you'll have to wait to apply, because details about the application process, and exactly how you qualify for a license, haven't been worked out yet.
The state police have 180 days from July 9 to make applications "available." Sometime before Jan. 6, then, you should be able to actually apply.
To qualify for a license, you must not: be convicted of a misdemeanor involving force or violence, or of two DUIs, within the last five years; or have a charge pending against you that would disqualify you; or have been in residential or court-ordered substance abuse treatment within the last five years.
You must: be at least 21; have a valid firearm owner's ID Card; and have completed 16 hours of firearm training.
The state police have 60 days (before Sept. 8) to start approving training classes. In addition to receiving classroom instruction, you must actually fire at least 30 rounds, and hit a body silhouette target with 70 percent accuracy from 5, 7 and 10 yards (minimum 10 shots each).
Nobody is approved yet, but the NRA's eight-hour "pistol" class now costs $125, and will probably count toward the required hours. One website estimates a 16-hour class will cost $275.
When you apply, a variety of law enforcement agencies will get notified within 10 days, and then have 30 days to object. Only law enforcement can object, and only on grounds that you're a danger to yourself, to others or to public safety. Law enforcement must object if you have five arrests "of any kind" within the last seven years.
If there's no objection, state police have 90 days to issue a license, or deny your application because you don't qualify.
Next week: What a concealed-carry license allows.
John Roska is a lawyer with Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation. You can send your questions to The Law Q&A, 302 N. First St., Champaign, IL 61820. Questions may be edited for space.