Carjackings in Chicago more than doubled in 2020 compared to 2019, and in the first ten days of the year the city averaged more than six carjackings per day. With city officials seemingly powerless to stop the surge in violent crime, it should come as no surprise that some residents are now choosing to protect themselves.
The website Block Club Chicago reports that many area firearms instructors are seeing high demand for concealed carry courses, even with the current backlog of in applications that has led to months-long waits for many gun owners hoping to legally bear arms in self-defense.
Retired probation officer Javondlynn Dunagan owns JMD Defense, a self-defense company in Beverly that offers gun safety and conceal carry classes. She said her business has boomed as South Side residents increasingly feel ignored by the police and reporters.
Dunagan said carjackings — combined with the riot at the Capitol and unrest this summer — have resulted in large numbers of residents signing up for concealed carry classes. Along with getting a Firearm Owner’s Identification Car from the Illinois State Police to own a gun, gun owners who wish to get concealed carry privileges must complete a 16-hour class.
“It’s a feeling that [the police] can’t handle it and on the South Side, they are feeling neglected,” Dunagan said.
“I’ve had customers who were victims of carjackings then suddenly conceal carry became their No. 1 priority because they never want to experience that again, and if they do, they want to have a chance,” said the owner of Illinois Protect and Conceal at 6938 W. Higgins Road, who said he his known as IPAC Instructor Paul.
FOID applications in 2020 boomed in Illinois, with 341,153 applications. For concealed carry permits, 93,893 applications were received.
As of last month, the Illinois State Police were reporting a backlog of more than 100,000 FOID applications, and there were almost 30,000 concealed carry applications waiting to be processed as well. In October of last year, the state police reported an average wait time of 129 for concealed carry applicants, and there’s no sign that things have improved significantly since then.
That means that even if Chicago residents are embracing their Second Amendment rights in order to protect themselves on the road, it could be months before they’re able to do so without violating state law. In the meantime, those preying on innocent victims know that they’re likely to get away with their crimes.
Along with the time and locations, the methods seem to vary. Most carjackers seem to work in teams of two or three. Some pull up in another car and lightly hit the victim’s car to get them to exit before stealing their vehicle. Some run up when a victim is parked or near their car and force them to turn over their keys. Some target ride-hail drivers. Some have a gun. Most take the victim’s cellphones and other items along with their car. And many of the offenders are young teenagers and are charged as juveniles if caught.
“They know when they commit these crimes they are going to go to jail for a moment and then get right back out … . It’s a revolving door,” Dunagan said.
A revolving door for criminals, and roadblocks for residents who want to legally be able to protect themselves. It’s a recipe for disaster in Chicago, and it’s already unfolding on the city’s streets.
Is there any hope of relief? Possibly. There are a number of lawsuits that have been filed over the FOID card and concealed carry delays, and the Illinois State Rifle Association was supposed to have a hearing on a request for an injunction back in December, but the hearing was postponed until January 15th. So far there’s been no word from the judge on the request by the ISRA, but with Democrats still firmly in control of state government, any potential relief is going to have to come from the courts and not lawmakers in Illinois.