Authorities call year-old concealed-carry law a 'non-event'
While gun violence remains a problem across Illinois, the state's year-old concealed-carry law has had no noticeable negative effect, local authorities say.
"For us, it's been a non-event," said Joe Gallo, deputy chief with Champaign police, echoing a similar sentiment as law-enforcement officials in other area counties.
When Illinois became the last state to enact concealed-carry in January, after the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down its long-time ban, police expressed concerns about safety. One of their biggest fears: police interactions with licensed gun carriers during traffic stops.
Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh said deputies made one DUI arrest of a concealed-carry permit holder in 2014. The driver was completely cooperative, he said.
Walsh said he told his deputies when the law went into effect to let him know if they ran into any problems.
"I've yet to get one," he said.
"I think people were so concerned about it in the beginning, because there was a lot of media hype and speculation," said Urbana Police Chief Patrick Connolly. "But quite honestly, we have often said the people who are law-abiding and take the time to go to class and register and understand the concept, hopefully, are going to be smart enough to handle the firearm appropriately. So, I don't think this was something out of the ordinary."
Danville police Sgt. Josh Campbell agreed, saying "When you're talking concealed-carry, it's mostly your law-abiding citizens, who don't cause problems anyway."
Also underwhelming has been the number of applicants for concealed-carry permits statewide. State Police expected to be inundated with applications, predicting Year 1 would produce 400,000 alone.
Through mid-December, about 90,300 permits have been issued in Illinois. Among area counties, Champaign leads the way with 1,319 applications for permits, 1,312 of which were issued, according to figures provided to The News-Gazette by Monique Bond with the state police.
Early on, Walsh said, his department was swamped with requests for fingerprints, one of the criteria the state set for applicants. Similarly, one of his lieutenants was spending huge chunks of time determining whether to object to an application, based on a person's history.
But one year later, Walsh said, applications are down considerably.
The fifth-most populous state, Illinois has significant ground to make up to catch neighbors' concealed-carry totals. Indiana has more than 400,000 registered permit holders, Iowa more than 240,000 and Missouri more than 130,000, according to federal statistics.