Putting fear in crosshairs

Putting fear in crosshairs

CHAMPAIGN — In Dean Hazen's line of work, rarely does a day go by without some mention of the latest shooting spree in Champaign or international terrorist incident abroad.

Hazen teaches beginners the safe and proper ways to use firearms as a concealed-carry instructor with The Gun Experts in Urbana.

Business these days is good.

"It's a fear thing," Hazen said. "I don't like to sell fear. But I think it's in the back of everybody's mind."

From Paris to Roseburg, Ore., network newscasts to local morning radio, it's hard to escape headlines of mass shootings day after day.

How much of an effect it has on concealed-carry applications and the turnout at local gun ranges, area instructors can't say. But it's undeniably had some influence, most agree.

Steve Weldon with Champaign CCW taught a concealed-carry class that began Nov. 14, the day after 130 people were killed by terrorists in Paris. When he asked them to share why they were there, most indicated it was a good time of year to fit it in. Others mentioned concern with crime in their own neighborhoods or town.

"People are very worried," Weldon said.

William Smoot, a retired University of Illinois police sergeant, teaches concealed-carry courses through his Goose Creek Firearms Training business. He said there seem to be incidents — whether local, national or international — that tend to prompt calls for his classes.

"That is accurate. I can't give you specific numbers, but I do notice that," said Smoot, citing one example of it happening just this week.

Tim Murray with the High Caliber Training Center in Urbana said his facility has seen an increase in class sign-ups since mid-summer and believes people are generally taking their personal safety more seriously — not only because of local crime but also national and world events.

"I think it's more of a global type of personal awareness that people are starting to have," said Murray, adding that the center began a new series, "The Armed Citizen," last month that goes beyond the basic 16-hour concealed-carry class required by the state to obtain a permit.

Many local CCL instructors teach advanced classes, with High Caliber offering ones on handgun skills, the proper mindset of an armed citizen (whether armed with a concealed firearm, pepper spray or mace), how to respond in an active shooter situation (as happened when 10 were killed on Oct. 1 at Oregon's Umpqua Community College), and how to treat a traumatic injury (like a gunshot or knife wound).

He said the first three or four people who signed up for the series will complete it in about a month.

Weldon said the most likely scenario local concealed-carry students might face is a robbery in a convenience store. He said home invasions are up locally, and some people in his classes have expressed concern about that type of crime, even though a CCL permit isn't required to have a gun in the home.

Smoot advises his students always to be aware of their surroundings. It's a message he recommends not only those learning how to use a gun but everyone.

"If you walk around and have no idea who and what's around you, you are an easy victim," he said.

Students on the UI campus often walk around paying more attention to their electronic devices than what's around them, making them prime targets, Smoot said.

County comparison

Nearly two years after concealed carry became legal in the Land of Lincoln, 139,843 Illinoisans have been licensed, with many more behind them. The area numbers:

County Active Processing
Champaign 2,073 168
Vermilion 1,335 126
Douglas 418 27
Piatt 379 46
Ford 205 20


Sections (2):News, Local

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Cuthbert J. Twillie wrote on November 24, 2015 at 7:11 am

I have always enjoyed liberals who wanted the decent citizen NOT to have CCW, but then remain silent when Champaign is under seige with the number of shootings that we have had.  Out of all those murders we had.. how many CCW permit holders?  None?   State wide, how many CCW permit holders have caused problems?  My guess is < than a 100.  After all, like the Tribune had the other day when a CCW permit holder shot and wounded a thug trying to rob him, the story was written as tho the permit holder had done something wrong.


We were told my Ms. Ammons that there would be blood in the street from the permit holders.  Why was she not interviewed to get her side of the story now?    It is time that the NG asked those who  voted against the law to give their imput after a year and half of CCW.  49 other states have had it for years and there have not been shoot outs in the streets, but liberals still want us to not have our basic rights.

STM wrote on November 24, 2015 at 9:11 am

Oh, and we're not "under siege."  Bedwetter gun nuts are so hyperbolic.

IlliniwekMerica wrote on November 25, 2015 at 8:11 am

You just called this guy a "bedwetter gun nut" but your upset at his hyperbole? 


Nice Davis wrote on November 27, 2015 at 11:11 pm

Gun owners are generally a fearful lot. Handgun owners especially lack courage and confidence.

Molly1 wrote on November 30, 2015 at 10:11 am

Many times I see this "Oh, it must be so terrible to be so scared all of the time that you need to carry a gun" commentary.

There is a serious difference between being prepared and being scared.

I bet that you don't fear having a flat in your car, because you always carry a spare with you.

I am never afraid of having a dead battery, because I carry jumper cables year round.  (Even though +95% of the time, I use them to help others.)

You probably don't wake up every day thinking that 'today my house might burn down', but I bet that you have smoke detectors / carbon monoxide detectors in your home just to be prepared for something that will probably never happen to you.

Heck you might even have a fire extinguisher at your home or place of business.  Does that mean that you are constantly in fear of burning...?  No, just the opposite, you are prepared for an unlikely situation that could be quite terrible without the appropriate tools to handle the situation.

I don't suppose that people that invest in homeowners insurance fear that a fire, earthquake, structural collapse from a car running into their home happens in a constant state of fear.  But they are prepared in case something is needed.

I personally do not own a gun, but I carried one in the US military for 21 years defending the rights of those that choose to carry a gun now.

You need to add some logic to your arguments, because at this point, logic is sorely lacking.

Nice Davis wrote on November 30, 2015 at 8:11 pm

You sound like the type of person who should wear a helmet at all times just to be safe. Semper paratus!

Molly1 wrote on November 30, 2015 at 11:11 pm

You sound like someone whose IQ is smaller than their shoe size.

But, that has nothing to do with others carrying guns safely with a CCW permit.

Nice Davis wrote on December 01, 2015 at 7:12 am

It's very telling that your response to my legitimate safety recommendation--based on your advice to be prepared for the worst, no less--is to insult my tiny feet. Having tiny feet does not make me a bad person.

EdRyan wrote on November 24, 2015 at 8:11 am

Arizona has open and concealed carry without any sort of permit.  As far as I know the streets are not drenched in blood.

STM wrote on November 24, 2015 at 9:11 am

Putting guns in the hands of (unnecessarily) frightened people is insane. The media sells fear, and we lap it up. We're more dangerous to ourselves than any terrorist organization.

BruckJr wrote on November 24, 2015 at 10:11 am


wilsona wrote on November 24, 2015 at 10:11 am

Arizona has open carry without a permit, but a permit is required in order to carry concealed.

Speakerman11 wrote on November 24, 2015 at 10:11 am

Its a sketchy society we are living in today.  Lots of unstable variables out there: mental health, attitudes against law enforcement, gang activity, people taking desperate measures in desperate times, mass shootings, workplace violence...the list goes on.  And yes, terrorism makes the list.  If you dont believe it does, fall in line behind those that also baa and meh.

In my opinion,  should you be in a possession of a CCL, in this day in age, you have a responsibility, not just to those immediately around you, but to society to be prepared to take action should a situation arise where your life and those around you are in jeopardy.  Its a fine line between responsiblity and choice.  By holding that Illinois license, you have received quality instruction, successfully passed a background check of several agencies, probably have above average experience with firearms and marksmanship and have a good understanding of what is appropriate use and what is not appropriate use of your firearm.

Some citizens will be sheep and fall victim to the wolf.  In today's society, and the things that are going on, the sheepdog's presence is warranted; not to be the law enforcement officer, but to stand in to defend those that can't when the LEO is not present. 


Bulldogmojo wrote on November 24, 2015 at 11:11 am


Murders by concealed carry loons http://www.vpc.org/press/press-release-archive/concealed-carry-killers-responsible-for-at-least-26-mass-shootings-in-the-past-six-years/

and correct me if I'm wrong wasn't the argument for concealed carry legislation that the mere passing of the law itself would have an immediate impact on crime as "criminals wouldn't know who was carrying so they would hesitate to commit crimes"? That was their case their argument. Guess what it only increased homicides by people who conceal carry. Genius

On a side note do you ever notice these heroes never seem to be around when something is going down?

If strapping on a gun assuages your fears you weren't in any real danger in the first place. Obviously

Mastadon-27 wrote on November 24, 2015 at 1:11 pm

Downloaded the VPC document you provided as evidence. One in Illinois in six years!? One domestic murder/suicide. I happen to have a CCW issued after passing all of the mandated hours. The class was instructed by a retired Urbana police officer and a former military firearms instructor/security officer. Neither instructor appeared to have any lunacy (your description) and I doubt either of their employers would have vetted them if there were any possibility they would have acted irrationally. One of many decisions anyone carrying a concealed weapon has to make in milliseconds is whether to deploy their weapon, based on their own capability, their situation and who else may be in their line of fire. You make only a sensationalist argument to pump your own ego, as you have done before in your posts!

Bulldogmojo wrote on November 24, 2015 at 4:11 pm


Well Illinois just got concealed carry so if you look at the other states that have many documented concealed carry loons over many years of killing people you will be able to synthesize the inevitable outcome that as we build up more loons with CC permits we will see many more here too. Pretty simple really. No ego required

Why are you such a coward that you need to carry a gun? I'm 51 I've never felt the need to carry a gun. It's also always amazing how you good guys with a gun are rarely ever around when these bad guys with a gun are conducting business.

Also I refuse to believe that any of these CC rights fanatics patiently waited until CC was passed before they started carrying a gun around. You've been doing it all along.

Thanks for keeping us in ever greater danger Marshall Dylan Ugh

You watch these CC loons will demand open carry soon and then the real fun begins cuz MUUURICA 

Mastadon-27 wrote on November 25, 2015 at 3:11 pm

Oh, so now it has to be the other states data for the last six years. I'm older than you and I don't carry a gun. I took the course so that if the situation in C-U gets worse, I won't have to carry illegally. I think you need to have a lot more faith in people in general. Of course, if the situation gets worse, you will have to carry illegally, since you admit you don't have a valid CCW for Illinois.

Bulldogmojo wrote on November 26, 2015 at 3:11 pm


That's quite the thought process you have there.

Cuthbert J. Twillie wrote on November 24, 2015 at 12:11 pm

When seconds count......


the police are only minutes away

Mamba wrote on November 24, 2015 at 4:11 pm

If strapping on a gun assuages your fears you weren't in any real danger in the first place. Obviously

Respectfully disagree. Having had a friend and neighbor killed not fifty feet from myself and my children, I saw firsthand how randomly evil can strike. I will concur that just 'strapping it on' didn't help with my fear...but once I learned how to safely handle my firearm, trained with it, developed muscle memory working with it quickly, I felt just a little better....yeah.

I felt better still when I moved out of Urbana.






Bulldogmojo wrote on November 24, 2015 at 5:11 pm


"Oregon's Umpqua Community College"


Wasn't it revealed there were 4 students concealed carrying there and none of them chose to intervene because they didn't want to be taken as the shooter by a SWAT team that wasn't even there yet??

When seconds count these self annointed CCW cowboys will be long gone and minutes away  Git-R-Done Ugh

The only thing you need to Conceal carry is the price of admission, a face for the picture and a background check about the same as an Uber driver.

Marty wrote on November 30, 2015 at 3:11 pm

With a website name like that you know it's biased if not tainted.

“For us, it’s been a non-event,” Champaign police deputy chief Joe Gallo told The (Champaign-Urbana) News-Gazette earlier this month.

“I think people were so concerned about it in the beginning, because there was a lot of media hype and speculation,” Urbana Police Chief Patrick Connolly told The News-Gazette. “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.”

“When you’re talking concealed-carry, it’s mostly your law-abiding citizens, who don’t cause problems anyway,” Danville police Sgt. Josh Campbell told the paper.

FYI, the State of Vermont doesn’t have even one gun law. Anyone federally legal to possess a gun, can carry it loaded concealed or open carry right down main street Vermont. But here is the part, as I said, no one pays any attention to, and that is, according to the FBI stat’s, Vermont has among the lowest per capita violent crime rates in the Nation. Arizona and Alaska have had similar results.

Michael Joe Hood shot three in 2010, not 2007. This was not a mass shooting (the FBI definition of a mass shooting is four or more), and with his documented history of mental illness, Hood should not have had a concealed carry permit, and there is some dispute over whether he did. He did not use a concealed weapon.
Jason Hamilton had a previous domestic violence conviction, and should not have been able to own any firearms. His attack did not involve concealed weapons. We can find no credible confirmation at all that Hamilton had title II weapons or a concealed carry permit, as VPC claims via a singular erroneous news report.
Terrance Hough, a Cleveland firefighter who shot five people for setting off fireworks in the street, did not use a concealed weapon.
Guillermo Zarabozo really did use a concealed weapon to murder four people in an act of piracy on the high seas. He is the first person on this list with a concealed carry permit who used a concealed weapon to commit mass murder.
Charles Johnson shot three people. This was not a mass shooting.
Aaron Jackson murdered his wife and two children before committing suicide. He did not use a concealed weapon.
Troy Brake shot three people to death, and beat a fourth victim to death. This again, was not a mass shooting by FBI standards, although it was a mass killing.
Frank Garcia did not have a concealed carry permit at all. He had a handgun ownership permit only.
Michael McLendon carried out a horrific attack that killed ten people before he took his own life. None of his victims was shot by a handgun, concealed or otherwise.
Jiverly Wong was a concealed carry permit holder who used concealed weapons to commit a mass shooting. He is the second person on this list with a concealed carry permit who used a concealed weapon to commit mass murder.
Richard Poplowski ambushed police officers who came to his home with a rifle. He did not use a concealed weapon in his firefight with police.
George Sodini is the third person on this list with a concealed carry permit who used concealed weapons to commit mass murder.
Paul Michael Merhige is the fourth person on this list with a concealed carry permit who used concealed weapons to commit mass murder.
William Maxwell murdered his wife and two children with a handgun before committing suicide. The handgun was not concealed, and his concealed carry permit was irrelevant.
Justin Matern murdered his estranged wife and children before committing suicide. He did have a concealed handgun permit, but it was irrelevant to the crimes.
Christopher Speight did kill eight people and injure several more. With a rifle. That he had a concealed carry permit was irrelevant to the crimes he committed.
Gerardo Regalado “came in running” with handgun when he shot seven women in Hialeah, Florida. His handgun was not concealed prior to the attack.
Omar Thorton was fired for theft, then returned to the job and shot eight co-workers to death before taking his life. He is the fifth person on this list with a concealed carry permit who used concealed weapons to commit mass murder.
I cannot find any evidence that Tan Do had a concealed carry permit.
Ian Stawiki is the sixth person on this list with a concealed carry permit who used concealed weapons to commit mass murder.
Paul Clifford Moore shot three people; again, this is not a mass killing by FBI standards. He retrieved a weapon from inside his own home and used it inside his own home against the victims. Concealed carry played no part in the murders.
Kevin Cleeves shot three people… once again, the VPC is adding crimes that are not mass killings. Because of a prior domestic violence conviction in Arizona, Cleeves was not eligible to possess or use a firearm, much less have a concealed carry permit.
Andrew Engeldinger did NOT have a concealed carry permit when he committed mass murder in Minneapolis. Permit applications were found at his home, but he had not applied.
Ferdarius Shine did not commit a mass shooting, killing three people. He opened fire in his own home, so a concealed carry permit was irrelevant, and there is some dispute as to whether or not he actually had a permit.
Dennis Clark murdered four people with a shotgun. Again, concealed carry was not in any way relevant to the crime.
Pedro Vargas began his attack in his apartment by committing arson, and then started shooting. Again, concealed carry was not relevant to his crimes.
Aaron Alexis, the Washington Navy Yard killer, used a shotgun in the commission of his crimes. Concealed carry was not relevant.
Kenneth Allen Keith killed three (again, less than the FBI minimal definition of a mass shooting… during a robbery attempt.
Craig Hicks killed three Muslims in Chapel Hill, NC. This was not a mass shooting, and concealed carry was not relevant as Hick ambushed the family in their home.