Concealed carry law goes into effect

Julia Kuhn, in depth editor

Illinois became the last state to pass a concealed carry law when lawmakers passed the Firearm Concealed Carry Act on July 9. People can apply for a license starting January 5, 2014. Concealed carry is defined as “weapons, especially handguns, which are kept hidden on one’s person, or under one’s control,” according to US Legal’s website.

To get a license, the applicant must be 21 years old, have a valid Firearm Owner Identification card, have not been convicted or found guilty of certain crimes, pay $150 (for in-state residents), and complete 16 hours of firearms training, according to the Illinois State Police’s (ISP) website. Illinois’ requirement of a 16 hour training course is the longest in the nation.

With a concealed carry license, a person would be allowed to carry a loaded handgun, defined on the ISP website as a device “that is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand.” The application for a concealed carry license can be found on the ISP website.

ISP spokeswoman Monique Bond said in a Rockford Register Star article that an estimated 400,000 applicants are expected to apply for a concealed carry license next year.

Q and A with Andy Sieber, Lake Zurich Police Department, detective

Q: Do you agree with the Firearm Concealed Carry Act and think citizens should be able to carry guns with a permit?

A: “Yes, I agree. I think the Constitution says we can carry arms. Illinois is finally coming along to pass this legislation. If people think they need a gun to protect themselves and they are responsible, have taken safety classes, and are proficient with firearms, I am all for them to carry a weapon.”

Q: Do you think the qualifications are appropriate?

A: “Yes, I think the qualifications and the things that disqualify someone from carrying a weapon are appropriate and well thought out.”

Q: What are the negative connotation with guns? Why do you think people would be against them?

A: “I think people are scared of guns. It can be a scary thing if you are not around guns or you’re around people who do not know how to use one. I was taught that it’s a tool. What makes it scary is the person using it, if they are trained or untrained, or mentally unstable. Hopefully the law does its job keeping guns out of the hands of these people, and if it does, there is nothing to worry about.”

Q: Do you think you would carry a gun if you were not a police officer?

A: “Probably not, based on where I live and my lifestyle, I don’t think I would need to.”

Q: Do you think guns promote violence?

A: No, I do not. As far as this legislation, I think it’s hoping to discourage some violence. Some criminals right now illegally carry weapons, and they know that no one else has one, but with the law, it is unknown if a potential target is carrying a gun. It might make the potential target safer because a criminal does not know who has a gun.”

Q: Is there anything else you would like to say about this topic?

A: “Yes, people always say to me, ‘Wouldn’t it make your job harder with a concealed carry law?’ We treat everyone as if they were armed or dangerous, so it doesn’t change how we do our job. The only difference is instead of people carrying guns illegally, now legally people in Illinois can carry arms. I’ll still treat everyone the same.”