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posted: 1/15/2014 9:23 AM

Editorial: Watch how gun law works before making changes

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

Is Illinois' newly implemented concealed carry law too loose or too restrictive? Right now, your answer would most likely depend on which side you fall on the question of guns.

It's no secret we have been opposed to legalizing the carrying of concealed weapons in Illinois -- the last state in the nation to do so -- and only grudgingly urged a bipartisan effort to approve it when it was clear a judge's ruling was forcing it to happen.

And once that legislation was approved, we said refinements already were needed. To be sure, to get bipartisan support, not everyone was going to be happy with the final outcome.

Sure enough, now that 1,000 applications are coming in each day, there is an effort afoot to start tinkering and making changes -- some more common sense than others.

State Rep. Deborah Conroy, a Villa Park Democrat, wants to raise fines for breaking the rules determining where people can carry guns and increase the criminal penalties for bringing a gun to school. It certainly stands to reason that what was once a felony on the first offense should not now be a misdemeanor on the first two offenses. We've also questioned along with state Sen. Dan Kotowski, a Park Ridge Democrat, the fact that loaded guns are not banned from churches and other places of worship.

Yet, we must agree with one of the chief sponsors of Illinois' concealed carry law, state Rep. Ed Sullivan, a Mundelein Republican, that some time needs to pass before we begin making these and any other significant changes.

Sullivan noted in an article Monday by the Daily Herald's Marty Hobe that Illinois' law has some of the most stringent education and licensing requirements in the country. On that front, even he sees a need to make sure safety instructors don't skirt rules by signing off on licenses without proper training.

We hope that means Sullivan also would put the brakes on efforts by the Illinois State Rifle Association and some downstate lawmakers to loosen some restrictions -- including changing the age someone can apply for a Firearm Owners Identification card without a parent's consent from 21 to 18.

Given the fact local authorities say they are overwhelmed with applications -- and some are concerned about proper oversight to make sure guns don't legally get in the hands of people who shouldn't have them -- changes should wait until a thorough review of the process, perhaps sometime this spring or summer.

The Illinois State Police is confident, according to an Associated Press article Tuesday, that the 90 days it has to review applications is enough time to assure those people with a history of violence or mental health problems will not be approved. Once that original 90 days or so is completed on the first wave of applicants, a review on how the process is working would be beneficial and likely lead to strengthening the law.

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