SPRINGFIELD | Even though lawmakers have been unable to agree on a plan allowing Illinoisans to carry concealed weapons, the Quinn administration has launched the process of building a computer system designed to handle future gun permits.
State purchasing documents show the Illinois State Police is spending $175,000 to begin automating the process used to identify people who will be prohibited from getting concealed-carry permits.
The contract, which is a part of a long-sought overhaul of the state’s beleaguered Firearm Owner’s Identification card program, represents just one piece of the additional manpower and computer upgrades state police officials say they’ll need to bring Illinois in compliance with a federal court order allowing citizens to carry concealed firearms.
The state police awarded the no-bid contract this week on an emergency basis, saying that without it, the state will not be ready to issue permits by the June 8 deadline dictated by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Jessica Trame, bureau chief for the state police’s firearm services division, said the agency is trying to be ready for the day when Illinois joins the rest of the nation with a law legalizing concealed carry.
In addition to upgrading computers and adding new software, the agency must hire people to process applications once they begin flowing in.
“We’re writing job descriptions,” Trame said.
The work behind the scenes comes as state lawmakers have been unable to reach an agreement over how to comply with the federal order.
The National Rifle Association wants as few restrictions as possible on the right to carry weapons, while gun control supporters say local sheriffs should have the ability to nix applications if they believe a person isn’t qualified to carry a loaded gun.
State Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, said he plans to ask his colleagues to vote on legislation next week that would legalize concealed carry throughout the state with one exception. Under his plan, anyone who wants to carry a loaded gun in Chicago would have to get an endorsement from the police chief, a provision that is opposed by the NRA.
Raoul said many voters are concerned about an increase in the number of guns being carried in the heavily populated urban area of the state's largest city.
“We’re making an effort to take in some of those concerns,” Raoul said.