After years of debate by state lawmakers and months of processing by the state police, the first licenses to carry concealed firearms landed in suburban mailboxes Monday.
The Illinois State Police issued concealed carry permits Friday, making Illinois the last state in the U.S. to allow concealed carry of a firearm.
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George Garay, a concealed carry instructor from Naperville, said he received his permit Monday and plans to start carrying right away.
He said he splits his time between Illinois and Arizona, where he can already carry a gun, so Garay was glad the state gave him the same chance in Illinois, too.
Garay said he is the 266th person in Illinois to be issued a license, according to his permit.
However, he does not think most citizens will be getting their permits right away.
"I think most of the people who have been approved (so far) are instructors," Garay said.
People who want a license have to finish 16 hours of training.
He said instructors got to sign up early, but most people will be waiting for two to three more weeks.
Demand for concealed carry has been heavy. More than 16,000 residents have applied for concealed carry permits across the state.
Brian Gard, chief instructor of Condition Yellow Academy in Arlington Heights, also received his license to carry a concealed handgun Monday. After serving in the Army, Gard worked with Brinks Security and other private security companies, where he regularly carried a gun on him.
Gard said because he was used to carrying a gun on the job, he doesn't feel any different with it now.
He said none of his students have received their licenses yet but weren't yet getting frustrated because Illinois' processing system takes "a little longer than most states so there's a little confusion on it."