Illinois State Police said the first permits allowing people to carry concealed handguns in public could be issued next week.
"We're looking to have approved licenses as early as the first week of March," spokeswoman Monique Bond said. "We are in the process of that now."
Illinois residents have been waiting to receive their licences after lawmakers approved concealed carry last year under a federal appellate court order. The first applications were accepted in January, and by the end of that month more than 16,000 applications had been filed with the state police, Bond said.
Local law enforcement officials can object to applications, Bond said.
"From here we can see how the program has worked from the bill that we wrote last year and in a few years start making necessary changes should they come available through the emperical evidence we see," said state Rep. Ed Sullivan, a Mundelein Republican who helped negotiate the law.
The new law outlines dozens of places where it will remain illegal to carry a loaded gun, including schools, playgrounds, government buildings and trains.
Even though no one is holding a permit yet, some suburban lawmakers have already begun pushing to expand those exemptions. Democratic state Sen. Dan Kotowski of Park Ridge, for example, wants to see concealed guns outlawed in places of worship.
Property owners including businesses have the option to ban concealed weapons.