Illinois officials will begin accepting applications Sunday from people who want to carry concealed weapons, but it could be months before anyone will actually be allowed to possess the firearms.
Illinois State Police have up to 90 days to approve or deny applicants, provided applications are complete and fingerprints are submitted in an electronic format. If an applicant's fingerprints aren't submitted, state police will have an additional 30 days to complete a manual background check. Law enforcement agencies also have 30 days from when an application is submitted to object to a license being issued.
State Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said Saturday officials have been testing the online application system and the process has gone smoothly.
"We'll be ready," she said.
Illinois' ban on the public possession of concealed guns was the last in the nation until a federal judge ruled last year that it was unconstitutional and gave lawmakers a deadline to end it.
Here are answers from the state police to some frequently asked questions about the new law:
Q: Who needs an Illinois concealed carry license?
A: Anyone who wants to carry a concealed firearm on their person, except for peace officers and eligible retired officers. People who carry firearms without a license are subject to arrest.
Q: What are the qualifications for a license?
A: Applicants must:
--Be 21 or older.
--Have a valid Firearm Owners Identification card.
--Successfully complete 16 hours of approved firearms training.
--Not have been convicted of a misdemeanor involving the use or threat of force or violence or have two or more violations related to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the past five years.
--Not have been in residential or court-ordered drug or alcohol treatment in the past five years.
--Not have a pending arrest warrant, prosecution or proceeding for an offense that could disqualify them.
--Submit a completed application.
Q: What types of firearms may be carried?
A: The law allows concealed handguns. Stun guns, Tasers, shotguns or machine guns as defined by state law are not allowed.
Q: Where may residents obtain the mandatory training?
A: A list of approved firearms instructors and courses is on the Illinois State Police website.
Q: What is the fee to apply?
A: For Illinois residents, $150 for five years. For out-of-state residents, $300 for five years.
Q: Will the state allow so-called "open carry"?
A: No. Handguns must be concealed from public view.
Q: Where are concealed weapons prohibited?
A: The law bans concealed carry in places such as schools, child care facilities, courthouses, public transportation, college and professional sports stadiums and in any establishment where alcohol sales make up more than 50 percent of the business's receipts.