Concealed carry permit applications drop sharply in the suburbs
The wave of applications to carry a concealed handgun in Illinois slowed significantly in the second year of the program, with thousands fewer people in the suburbs seeking a permit in 2015.
In Cook County, the Illinois State Police granted 15,204 permits in 2015, down from 24,808 in 2014, the first year licenses were available. In DuPage County, 3,198 permits were granted last year, compared to 5,833 in 2014.
Similarly, in Kane County, the number of approved permits dropped from 3,037 in 2014 to 1,725 in 2015. And the number of permits issued in Lake County dropped by about half, from 4,516 to 2,268.
State police granted 55,486 permits in 2015 statewide, compared to 95,546 in 2014.
Anthony Lambert, a firearms instructor in Gurnee, says he's seen a steady decline in the number of people taking the required 16-hour training class to get a concealed carry permit.
"I would say everybody rushed to get their concealed carry permit when it first became available," Lambert said. "It's definitely tapered down."
While the number of granted permits is down, the number of objections lodged by local law enforcement officials has more than doubled. Police departments, sheriff departments and state's attorneys raised objections to 10,729 applications across the state in 2015, up from 3,694 in 2014.
"In order for a law enforcement agency to object, it has to be based on reasonable suspicion that there is a danger to (the applicant), others, or a threat to public safety," said DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin. "Those are the only reasons."
In Cook County, 8,832 objections were raised last year. The Cook County sheriff's office flagged 1,600 concealed carry permit applications of the roughly 21,000 it reviewed, sheriff's spokesman Abdon Pallasch said.
The most common reasons cited were a record of arrest or charges for domestic violence, unlawful use of a weapon, aggravated assault or battery, Pallasch said.
"The policy decision made here was that those are good reasons to not give someone a concealed carry permit," he added.
After an objection is filed, the seven-member Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board reviews the case and decides whether the state should grant a permit.
Their review process came under fire in 2014. Applicants who had been denied a permit sued over the lack of transparency in the process, saying they were never notified of the reasons their applications were rejected.
State police have since changed the guidelines, requiring the review board to tell applicants the reason for denial and give them a 10-day window to appeal the decision.