Office Hours: FAQ on the state’s new concealed carry law
This month lawmakers made Illinois the last state to allow the carrying of concealed guns in public.
, prompted by a court ruling striking down a concealed-carry ban, permits anyone with a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card who has passed a background check and undergone gun-safety training to obtain a concealed-carry permit for $150.
STATEside asked Illinois State’s Director of Legal Studies Thomas McClure to help explain the ins and outs of the new law, and what it means for Illinois residents:
How will the new conceal carry law change gun ownership in Illinois?
The Firearm Concealed Carry Act does not change gun ownership in Illinois. Instead, it permits persons who have a valid FOID card to apply for a five-year license that allows them to carry a concealed firearm. Gun owners with valid FOID cards who do not wish to carry concealed firearms will not need to apply for the concealed carry license.
Some people equate the law to a new “wild west.” Is there anything in the law that could curb that image?
It’s interesting that some observers have this idea in light of the fact that 49 states already permit concealed carry. In any event, the image shouldn’t hold true in Illinois for three reasons. First, the Illinois law limits the types of weapons that can be concealed. The only type of firearm that can lawfully be concealed is a handgun. The act does not apply to stun guns, Tasers, machine guns, short-barreled rifles or shotguns.
Second, the law prohibits the concealed carry in many circumstances. The act lists numerous circumstances in which concealed firearms are not permitted. Concealed firearms are barred at child care facilities, preschools, elementary and secondary schools, playgrounds, parks, casinos and racetracks, mental health facilities, amusements parks, state and local government buildings, courthouses, jails and correctional facilities, hospitals, public transportation, taverns, airports, zoos, museums, nuclear power plants, stadiums and arenas, colleges, and universities.
Third, the act creates a stringent set of criteria to qualify for a concealed carry license. Besides holding a valid FOID card and passing a criminal background check, license holders must complete firearms training. Law enforcement agencies can object to the issuance of a license if they have “reasonable suspicion that applicants dangerous to themselves or to the public. The NRA withheld endorsement of the law because Illinois requires 16 hours of training, the most training mandated in any state.
Will local towns or even buildings be able to legally prohibit concealed firearms under the new law?
This question presents two different inquiries. The act forbids cities and villages from imposing regulations or restrictions on handguns or ammunition inconsistent with the act. In other words, local governments will not be able to enact their own concealed carry ordinances.
On the other hand, private property owners may prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms on the property under their control. In order to accomplish this, the owner must post a sign indicating that firearms are prohibited on the property. Owners of private residences do not have to post signs.
Does the law change anything when it comes to obtaining a permit?
Although a FOID card or the concealed carry license might be referred to as “permits,” there really isn’t an Illinois gun permit. I think “permit” is used as a term of convenience rather than a technical term. I’ve seen the word used to describe FOID cards as well as the concealed carry license. Many local governments do use the term “permit” rather than license under their ordinances regulating firearm possession.
Officials are anticipating a backlog of permit requests. Are lawmakers looking for a way to streamline the process?
The act creates timetables for implementation. Although some legislators may be concerned about the potential backlog, the act does not provide funding to streamline the process so delays seem inevitable.
Rachel Hatch can be reached at rkhatch@IllinoisState.edu.