Lawmakers: More gun instructors needed

2013-09-20T17:30:00Z 2013-09-20T20:41:08Z Lawmakers: More gun instructors neededKurt Erickson Lee Springfield Bureau nwitimes.com
September 20, 2013 5:30 pm  • 

SPRINGFIELD | With Illinois getting ready to join the rest of the nation in allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons, two state lawmakers are raising concerns about the number of instructors being certified to provide training.

Democratic state Reps. Brandon Phelps, of Harrisburg, and Jerry Costello, of Smithton, said the Illinois State Police must move faster on approving trainers to deal with the potentially high number of applicants seeking concealed carry permits.

“It is critically important that not only those interested apply as soon as possible, but we also want to make sure ISP is approving these instructors at a much higher volume than they have been, due to the high number of those waiting for the right to safely protect their families,” Costello said in a prepared statement.

“We strongly urge the ISP and governor to listen to the people of Illinois, and continue to approve instructors in a timelier manner, so concealed carry classes can begin,” said Phelps, who sponsored legislation this spring that put a concealed carry law on the books.

When lawmakers approved the new gun law in July, they delayed its rollout until next year in order to give state police time to put regulations and a licensing system in place.

Under the law, gun owners who want to carry loaded guns in public are required to complete 16 hours of training. The subject matter will include firearm safety, basic principles of marksmanship, care and cleaning of a firearm and the loading and unloading of a gun.

Applicants also must pass a live fire exercise by shooting at a target a minimum of 10 rounds from a distance of five yards, 10 rounds from a distance of seven yards and 10 rounds from a distance of 10 yards.

The training and approval of instructors didn’t get underway until earlier this month. Through Thursday, 55 instructors are listed as approved on the Illinois State Police website.

The two lawmakers want to see more instructors approved in order to accommodate what they believe will be a crush of people hoping to get permits.

“In order to handle the high demand of those wanting concealed carry permits, we need more qualified (instructors,)” Costello noted.

The two are urging anyone interested in applying to become a certified instructor or to have their firearms curriculum approved to apply with the state police.

State Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said information about how many more instructors are in the training pipeline was not available Friday. And she wasn't sure how many would be approved by the state by year's end.

But, she said Friday, the state would post a list of approved training programs on Sept. 30 on its website at www.isp.state.il.us. Training could begin soon after that, Bond added.

The first concealed carry permits are expected to begin being issued in April.

"I just don't want this to get any more slowed down than it is," Phelps said.

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