Number of Illinois concealed carry applicants falls short of prediction


By Camille Murray

The number of Illinois residents who applied for permits to carry a concealed firearm this past year was significantly lower than projected by Illinois State Police officials.

According to a report by the Illinois State Police, there was a total of 91,651 active applications in 2014. The number is about four times lower than the estimate of 400,000 applicants projected. The estimate was based on the number of people who already possessed Firearm Owner’s Identification Cards, which is a requirement for Illinois residents who wish to apply for a concealed carry permit.

The low number of applicants may be due to a few key factors, said John Boch, president of Guns Save Life, a regional organization that aims to educate the public about the benefits of firearm ownership.

“Probably first and foremost is the combination of the nation’s strictest and most difficult to overcome training requirement of 16 hours,” Boch said. “And the second aspect is the $150 application cost, which is one of the highest in the nation itself.”

Despite overall numbers being lower than initially projected, the Illinois State Police report showed a surge in the number of applications received in January 2014, when the law went into effect.

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Mark Esposito, an instructor at the Urbana-Champaign Immediate Action Defensive Training, noticed the downward trend in his training classes for concealed carry applicants.

“There were a lot of people who wanted to get their conceal and carry license,” Esposito said. “But now as the year wound down, we’re noticing a sharp decrease in the amount of people that actually want to get the license.”

In Champaign County, there was a total of 1,330 concealed carry applicants. According to Boch, this total is on trend with numbers seen across other Illinois counties.

However, he added that the number of concealed carry license holders in Illinois overall is significantly lower compared to other states.

“We’re way below the national average of about 5 percent of the adult population either having a carry license or being eligible to carry a concealed firearm,” Boch said.

In 2013, Illinois became the last state in the U.S. to legalize the carrying of concealed firearms. 

Now that concealed firearms are legal in Illinois, Boch believes one of the next steps for firearm advocates will be to lobby for the right to carry concealed firearms in certain places where they are currently prohibited. Areas where concealed firearms are still forbidden include schools, government buildings, courts, public transportation, amusement parks and public libraries.

Danae Behr, a senior in media and president of Illini on Target, a Registered Student Organization catering to student interest in pistols and rifles, agreed that the location restrictions for concealed carry should not necessarily apply to college campuses. She said the only reason she does not currently have a concealed carry permit is because it would not be useful on a college campus.

“I don’t think it’s justified. Concealed carry is for defense, and to take that right away from someone just because they’re going for their education is unfair,” she said. “When it comes down to it, it’s about my personal safety.”

Camille can be reached at [email protected].