I-Team: 14 IL counties won't wait for concealed carry gun permits

July 11, 2013 4:35:03 PM PDT
Illinois gun owners are looking at a long wait to apply for concealed weapons permits. State police say ramping up the application process will take months.

But on Thursday, the ABC7 I-Team has learned that more than dozen Illinois counties aren't willing to wait.

If you have a gun and want to carry it without being bothered by local law enforcement, you will have to travel a bit outside of metro Chicago. But not too far.

Even though Illinois' new concealed carry law is on the books, the actual state permitting process is not ready to go and won't be for months.

Regardless, the I-Team has identified 14 counties where authorities say you may not be arrested for carrying a gun.

With this week's override action by the General Assembly, Illinois was the 50th state to allow concealed carry.

On Thursday night, state police officials say troopers will still arrest anyone carrying a gun because no conceal carry applications have been processed and no permits have been issued under the new law.

But some county authorities in Illinois are ignoring that.

"I've already made clear to the state police that those prosecutions will go nowhere. Those folks will not be prosecuted as long as they're following the guidelines that I laid out," said Thomas Gibbons, Madison County State's Attorney.

Madison is one of 14 downstate counties where prosecutors or sheriff's officials have said that gun owners with state firearm owner's cards will not be arrested for carrying in public.

Gibbons, attending a county prosecutors conference in Chicago on Thursday, issued seven criteria that gun carriers must meet-including carrying for self-defense:

  • Must be issued and possess a valid F.O.I.D. card or, if not an Illinois resident, a valid concealed carry permit from a state that performs a background check prior to issuance of the permit; and

  • Must be carrying the firearm for self-defense; and

  • Must not be prohibited from possession of a firearm under another statute or court order; and

  • Must keep the firearm concealed on their person or in their vehicle, and not visible to the public; and

  • Must not be engaged in any criminal conduct; and

  • Must be in compliance with all other federal, state and local laws and ordinances; and

  • Must, when asked, inform law enforcement officers of the firearm when in contact with an officer in the course of their duties. It is essential that individuals cooperate with any police officer and inform them of the presence of the firearm prior to removing it from its concealed location. Displaying the firearm at a public location or without the request or knowledge of an officer could constitute a violation of the law.

"Criminals carry firearms and they use them to hurt people. And so anyone, any person in our society has the ability to keep a level playing field as long as they're otherwise law abiding-to carry a concealed firearm to make sure that if they're confronted with a deadly threat that they have the ability to make sure to defend themselves," said Gibbons.

There are more than 36,000 FOID card holders in Madison County, many of whom would be eligible to concealed carry. Among 150,000 FOID holders reside in counties where they will get a pass from local officials.

But possessing a FOID card from the state police doesn't insure someone should have one. An auditor general report from last year found, "There are significant deficiencies in the reporting of individuals with potentially disqualifying mental health conditions to the Illinois State Police."

What this means is that in certain Illinois counties you could carry a gun without being bothered by local law enforcement, and then get on the expressway where Illinois state police would arrest and charge you with a gun crime.

One suburban Chicago police chief criticizes those freewheeling downstate counties, saying this new concealed carry law has certain requirements that shouldn't be ignored.

The Illinois State Rifle Association filed a motion Wednesday that said gun owners should not have to wait to carry.

On Thursday, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart issued a statement on the enforcement of gun laws pending the state concealed carry application system being in place.


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