Gun owners across the state of Illinois are finding themselves playing a waiting game with the Illinois State Police over the issuance of their concealed carry licenses. An investigation by NBC Chicago found that there are currently more than 30,000 applications being processed, and the agency isn’t keeping up with the number of applications coming in.
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 Police aren’t to blame if they’re understaffed. That blame can be placed on politicians in Illinois, and unfortunately there are plenty of lawmakers in Springfield who are happy to see this department be understaffed and overworked.
Is it too much to ask that the State uphold its end of the concealed carry law? You as a citizen of Illinois aren’t supposed to carry without a license, so you navigate your way through the red tape in order to remain law-abiding. The State of Illinois, meanwhile, can’t meet its own mandates, but there’s no recourse for gun owners and would-be concealed carry holders.
If Governor J.B. Pritzker wanted, what’s stopping him from reducing staffing of the division in the Illinois State Police responsible for administering the concealed carry system in the state? It’s been done before. Back in 2005, then-Philadelphia mayor John Street announced that, in an effort to reduce homicides, he would no longer staff the division of the police department that issued concealed carry licenses. Of course the mayor couldn’t point to a single homicide committed by a concealed carry licensee, but that didn’t matter to him. It was all about stopping law-abiding residents from exercising their rights while loudly proclaiming he was “doing something” about the city’s rising violent crime.
Today in Illinois, the state police say that if you’re applying to renew your concealed carry license, your existing card remains valid while the renewal is being processed, as long as you applied before the license expired. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that law enforcement will know this, particularly if you travel outside of the state.
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.”
This is a real issue, and though the State Police say they’re working on implementing a system that will allow for concealed carry license renewals over the phone, they don’t seem to have a deadline for bringing the system online. Until then, tens of thousands of gun owners in Illinois hoping to bear their arms are going to be twiddling their thumbs instead.