Illinois concealed carry license holders go through an approval process that is already considered to be the strictest the country. Now residents who are seeking to legally conceal their guns face longer processing times, in part, due to a lack of adequate staffing to handle renewals and new applications.
“Not only is it difficult to get a permit in Illinois, but now there’s this huge delay,” said Tim Schmidt of the United States Concealed Carry Association.
There are currently 33,930 first-time and renewal Illinois Concealed Carry License (CCL) applications currently being processed, according to records obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request.
The Illinois State Police said the current length of time to process and approve an Illinois Concealed Carry License (CCL) is 90 days for applications with fingerprints and 120 days for applications without fingerprints.
But that’s not what CCL applicants are experiencing these days, according to the owner of a Des Plaines gun shop that, to date, has put 1,200 customers through the state’s concealed carry curriculum.
Dan Eldridge of Maxon Shooter’s Supplies and Indoor Range said a survey of his customers revealed the state is taking about 120 days to process applications submitted with fingerprints and 140 days for applications submitted without fingerprints.
“You do your part and you hope the State Police can do theirs,” said Eldridge. “I don’t fault the State Police, necessarily. They are under resourced in getting this done.”
The state’s Firearm Services Bureau call center is currently staffed with five individuals to help people with questions about their CCL and Firearm Ownership Identification (FOID) questions.
“The Department is aware of issues surrounding the Call Center and currently is working on implementing a VoIP call center solution to provide much needed improvements and efficiencies,” said a spokesperson for the Illinois State Police.
According to a State Police press release, the improvements will allow callers to select their specific issues and potentially resolve them independent of an agent. It will also provide callers the ability to renew a FOID card or CCL with no address change over the phone, including payment, without speaking to a live agent.
The estimated cost of implementation is $750,000 with a recurring monthly cost of $10,000. The vendor is Presidio and the costs are being paid for through the State Police Firearm Services Fund.
In 2013, Illinois approved concealed carry legislation and many of the first-issued CCL cards are now expiring. Additionally, Schmidt said more people are seeking concealed carry cards because they want to be the first line of defense for their families.
“We don’t want anyone to get shot, but if we can stop a crime, stop a rape, just with the presence of the firearm, that’s exactly what we want to happen,” Schmidt said.
First-time CCL applicants must possess a valid Firearm Owners Identification (FOID), take sixteen hours of classroom and gun range instruction, and pass a 30 round marksmanship test. You must also be at least 21-years-old and pay a $150 an application fee to the state.
Renewing CCL applicants must take a three hour course and re-qualify with the same shooting qualification, according to an instructor at Maxon Shooter’s Supplies and Indoor Range.
The Illinois State Police said concealed carry card holders remain active as long as they apply prior to their expiration date.
But Eldridge said there is concern about what could happen to renewal applicants in the other 25 states that honor the Illinois concealed carry permit.
“If you do have a law enforcement interaction, are they familiar with the statute in Illinois?” Eldridge said. “Do they know that, well, it’s under review and so therefore, it’s still valid? My guess is that they don’t.”
Concealed carry application processing in Indiana may take up to 60 days, according to an Indiana State Police spokesperson. A Wisconsin Department of Justice spokesperson said the average processing time for a new concealed carry application in Wisconsin is 5 days.
The Illinois State Police said until improvements in the call center are completed, applicants may call (217) 782-7980. They can also visit the Illinois State Police home page and click the Firearms tab where they will find a section related directly to FOID/CCL. Emails can be sent to the Firearms Services Bureau at ASKFOID@illinois.gov.