CHICAGO | About 4,500 requests for concealed carry permits were submitted the first day Illinois' online application system was open to the public, officials said Monday.
The applications submitted Sunday during the system's first 24 hours of operation brought the total permit requests to more than 11,000, said Monique Bond, a spokeswoman for the Illinois State Police. The other 6,500 applications came in recent weeks, as the state allowed firearms instructors to apply for permits early in order to help test the online application system. Detailed information on what areas of the state saw the most applicants wasn't yet available, Bond said.
"Right now we're pleased with the ease of the process so far," she said. Bond called the number of applicants a "pretty healthy number."
In July, Illinois became the last U.S. state to approve legislation allowing residents to carry concealed weapons.
Those who are 21 or older, have a valid Firearm Owners Identification Card, complete a 16-hour training course and pass a background check can obtain a concealed carry permit for a fee. The five-year permits cost $150 for residents and $300 for nonresidents.
The law bans carrying concealed firearms in places such as schools, child-care facilities, courthouses, public transportation, college and professional sports stadiums and in establishments where alcohol sales make up more than 50 percent of a business's receipts.
Illinois lawmakers have projected that there would be 350,000 to 400,000 applications for concealed carry permits in the first year of the law.
Currently, applications can only be submitted online. But Bond said that by July, a written application will be available to residents.
"This is the most expeditious and efficient process," she said of the online system.
Still, it could be months before anyone receives a concealed carry permit.
State Police have up to 90 days to approve or deny applicants, provided their applications are complete and fingerprints are submitted in an electronic format. If an applicant's fingerprints aren't submitted, the State Police will have an additional 30 days to complete a manual background check. Law enforcement agencies can object to a license being issued within 30 days of an application being submitted.
Early interest in concealed carry permits varied greatly in different parts of the state.
Southern Illinois' Marion County hadn't received a single application Sunday, the sheriff's office said. But more than 2,500 applications were submitted during that time in Cook County, said Cara Smith, a spokeswoman for the Cook County Sheriff's Department.
Smith said that the numbers likely would have been higher if not for the deep freeze that was commanding so much attention.