Written by Kelly White
Illinois residents planning to pack heat when the state’s new Concealed Carry Law goes into effect in January need to become more familiar with the law and how it works.
Hickory Hills Police Chief, Alan Vodicka, addressed residents and the city council last Thursday on this issue, with concerns including requirements to obtain a conceal and carry license, gun control and which businesses will be affected.
“We are anticipating somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000 people in the state of Illinois to apply for a Concealed Carry License,” Vodicka said. “Obtaining a license is still a work in progress with two options for background checks, fingerprinting or running one’s background without fingerprinting.
“The difference is the turnover rate in which one would receive his or her license,” Vodicka added, “If they do the fingerprint background check, there will be a 60-day turnover, and if they run their background without fingerprints, there will be a 180 day-turnover.”
Fingerprinting will be offered at local police stations for a fee to be determined throughout the state of Illinois.
If an order of protection is placed on an individual living within the state of Illinois, his or her Concealed Carry License will automatically be revoked. Anyone who has been issued a medical marijuana card cannot have a Concealed Carry License.
If an Illinois resident already has a Firearm Owners Identification card to legally possess or purchase firearms or ammunition, they still must obtain a conceal and carry license. “They are definitely two separate things,” Vodicka said.
Illinois State Police Officers will continue to enforce the law in effect by arresting any person carrying a firearm without a Concealed Carry License. Anyone living within the state of Illinois is eligible to apply for a Concealed Carry License who wants to carry a concealed firearm, except current peace officers and retired police officers eligible under a federally approved retired officer concealed carry program, such as the Illinois Retired Officer Concealed Carry (IROCC) Program. Retired officers may be eligible to carry under either the IROCC Program or the Firearm Concealed Carry Act.
“Current police officers are except from the Concealed Carry Law and are allowed in prohibited buildings with their concealed firearm, as they always have been,” Vodicka added.
Residents obtaining a Concealed Carry License will not be able to carry their firearms openly. A handgun carried on a person must be concealed from view of the public. If the firearm is not concealed, that individual is subject to arrest.
Vodicka said a concealed firearm is described as a handgun. A handgun means any device which is designed to expel a projectile or projectiles by the action of an explosion, expansion of gas or escape of gas that is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand. A handgun does not include a stun gun or taser, a machine gun, a short-barreled rifle or shotgun, any pneumatic gun, spring gun or paintball gun.
There are also locations within the state which will prohibit any concealed firearms. “These places only apply to the patrons visiting them,” Vodicka said. “This does not apply to the owner of a property, and again, police officers are except from this.”
Prohibited locations include: schools/child care facilities, colleges/universities, courthouses, libraries, government buildings, public playgrounds, public parks, public transportation, public gatherings, parades, museums, stadiums, zoos and bars and restaurants that have over 50 percent of total sales from alcohol.
Signage is required to be posted at every public entrance accessible in these buildings to inform the general public concealed firearms are prohibited within the facility. The signage is required to display an image approved by Illinois legislation.
Any non-residential building or business may prohibit firearms by choice but must also have signage at every accessible entrance in order for it to be enforced.
“Businesses have the option to decide whether or not they want to prohibit concealed firearms,” Vodicka said. “I actually asked a couple businesses throughout town and they surprisingly said they were fine allowing concealed firearms within their place of business.”
Signage will begin to be posted throughout Hickory Hills and the state of Illinois after first of this year. “The signs are very important,” Vodicka said. “There are a few different signs to choose from prohibiting firearms, but regardless, whichever is chosen, it needs to be posted at every entrance on a building prohibiting firearms.”
He also said there will be a parking lot exemption for concealed firearm holders. A licensee may carry a concealed firearm in the immediate area surrounding his or her vehicle within a prohibited parking lot area only for the limited purpose of storing or retrieving a firearm from within the vehicles truck, provided the licensee ensures the concealed firearm is unloaded prior to exiting the vehicle.
“Their gun must be unloaded and broken down inside of their vehicle, before exiting the vehicle and placing it into their truck and entering the building,” he said.