Q: When can I actually get a concealed-carry license for handguns?
A: It depends of two unknowns, but probably not much before April 5, 2014.
The first unknown is when applications for concealed carry licenses will be available. According to the Firearm Concealed Carry Act, applications must be available within 180 days of July 9 — when the law went into effect.
That means applications must be available before January 6, 2014. The Illinois State Police, who'll be doing the licensing, says it will "make applications available to the public by January 5, 2014."
Each previous step in the development of the concealed carry law has taken as long as possible. If things go down to the wire again, January 5 will be the earliest you can apply.
It costs $150 to apply. Once you apply, the Illinois State Police has 90 days to OK or deny your application. How long it will actually take is the second unknown.
Assuming the full 90 days, April 5 is the earliest date you could actually have a concealed carry license. It could be before that, but only if you're able to apply before January 5, or if takes less than 90 days to approve your application.
About April 5, then, is probably when the first concealed carry licenses will appear.
The basic qualifications for a concealed carry license are: being at least 21, having a valid Firearm Owner's ID Card and completing 16 hours of firearm training.
The training curriculum has been approved, and the state police started approving instructors in September. A directory of approved instructors is on its website, at http://bit.ly/concealcarryISP . Classes cover required basics, but aren't all alike. Typical cost seems to be about $275.
To get an official "Concealed Carry Firearm Training Certificate," proving you've successfully completed the required instruction, you must also hit a body silhouette target with 70 percent accuracy from 5, 7, and 10 yards (minimum 10 shots each).
The basic disqualifications for a concealed carry license are: (1) having been convicted within the last 5 years of a misdemeanor involving force or violence, or of 2 DUIs; (2) having certain criminal charges pending against you; (3) having been in residential or court-ordered substance abuse treatment within the last 5 years, or (4) posing a danger to yourself, others, or to public safety.
Getting a concealed carry license, then, is harder than getting a FOID card.
Various law enforcement agencies can object to your application for a concealed carry license.
Only they can object, and only on grounds that you're a danger to yourself, to others, or to public safety. They MUST object if you have 5 arrests "of any kind" within the last 7 years.
If there's no objection, the state police has that 90 days to decide if you clear all the disqualifying hurdles. If you're denied, there's an appeal process.
Conceal-carry not universal
Even with a license, concealed carry will be illegal in many places. If you enter a parking lot where it's illegal, the state police says you can conceal carry your handgun to your trunk, "provided the licensee ensures the concealed firearm is unloaded prior to exiting the vehicle."