Concealed carry training slows as application process begins
Suburban instructors have seen a huge demand for training required to legally carry concealed handguns in public, sometimes leading to difficulty scheduling training times at local shooting ranges.
The Illinois State Police began taking applications for concealed carry permits Sunday. The new law requires 16 hours of safety training before a person can apply to get a license.
James Monk II, a concealed carry instructor from Naperville, said he has trained about 80 people since November.
However, Monk said scheduling training can be tough.
"I need to schedule classroom and range training together and that's hard right now," Monk said.
Monk said because of the high demand for training facilities, instructors have to delay training until gun ranges and classrooms are available at the same time.
About 4,500 concealed carry permit requests were submitted on the first day that Illinois' online application system was open to the public, officials said Monday. Another 6,500 applications came in recent weeks, as the state allowed firearms instructors to apply for permits early in order to help test the online application system.
George Garay, another instructor from Naperville, said he has been training people for the past three months and is having the same problem.
"The biggest setback is trying to find comparable ranges to do the training at," Garay said.
The State Police expect to have around 400,000 applicants by the end of the year, leaving it up to concealed carry instructors to train the applicants. There are 1,963 registered instructors listed on the Illinois State Police website statewide, with 383 in Cook County, 137 in DuPage County, 74 in Kane County, 113 in Lake County, 59 in McHenry County and 149 in Will County.
Many facilities that have classrooms and indoor ranges are not opening up to outside trainers, some of them say.
"Some of the other ranges have decided to take it all and do it in house," said Barry Soskin, who owns the Article II Range in Lombard.
Soskin, of Arlington Heights, said he has opened his facilities to outside firearm trainers. Almost 1,000 people have been trained in the classrooms and range since October, he said.
The training includes firearm safety, education on state and federal firearm laws and instruction on appropriate interaction with law enforcement officers when carrying a concealed firearm.
Rules about where concealed firearms can be carried are also covered in training. Gun owners cannot carry, for example, on trains and buses, at playgrounds, on Cook County Forest Preserve property and in government buildings, among other places.
Once safety training is completed and an application is submitted, the state has 90 days to approve or deny the application.
Jason Lentz, of Elgin, has been teaching firearm classes for 14 years. He said he thinks the training is a good thing.
"People think that guns are a terrible thing, but lawful gun owners don't act like vigilantes, they use it for protection," Lentz said.
• The Associated Press contributed to this story.