SPRINGFIELD | Illinoisans soon will be able to apply for permits to carry loaded weapons in public, but the application process will be online only.
The lack of an option for turning in a request for a concealed carry permit on paper has the chief sponsor of the state’s new gun law concerned.
“We want the ability to have a choice,” said state Rep. Brandon Phelps when asked about the decision by the Illinois State Police to develop a paperless application system.
“You’ve got people in some rural areas who don’t have access to computers or who might not understand the technology,” the Harrisburg Democrat added.
Beginning Jan. 5, people wanting to carry concealed weapons can begin filling out applications.
Illinois State Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said there is no procedure in place for applicants to send in a paper application.
“At this time we will only be accepting applications online,” Bond said. “It is more efficient, cost effective and easier for other agencies to communicate throughout the application process.”
While Phelps said he understands the state police reasoning and agrees a paper application could slow the approval process, he said the option should still be available for people who don’t have computers or Internet access.
“It’s a big deal that needs to be addressed,” Phelps said.
The debate comes at a time when much of government is transitioning to an online marketplace. While problems with the federal health insurance website have bogged down the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, a number of Illinois agencies have been moving in that direction without incident in recent years.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security, for example, has been promoting an online portal for jobless benefits, while the Department of Natural Resources is working toward a fully online system for various licenses.
Some agencies, however, still require face-to-face, paper-based transactions.
At the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, for example, new drivers must show up at a driver’s license facility to get their license.
Phelps said he’s discussed the issue with the state police and Gov. Pat Quinn’s office, but the no-paper philosophy has not yet changed.
Officials expect as many as 400,000 people to apply for the new weapons permits