Classes under way for Ill. conceal-carry permits

Tens of thousands are filling classrooms around Illinois to learn how to use a gun.
October 18, 2013 3:01:12 PM PDT
Tens of thousands are filling classrooms around Illinois to learn how to use a gun.

They are anticipating the state's new concealed carry law, which goes into effect next year.

It is a small class - like dozens of others under way throughout the state. Colleen Lawson, who was herself a crime victim, is one of the state's certified concealed carry instructors. She's teaching the course the new law requires for CCW permit holders. It's a course that - over 16 hours - deals with firearm safety, handling, marksmanship, and the law.

A fundamental part of the lesson - amidst terms like "mantle of innocence," and "disparity of force" is that concealed carry is meant for self-protection - not a license for an average Joe to consider himself part of law enforcement.

"You have to be fully threatened. Your life must be in extreme danger in order to pull that trigger. I'm hoping to never have to do that," said student Marlow Davis.

Davis and his wife Freddie are among what state police estimate will be 400,000 applicants for concealed carry permits in Illinois. They must pass the 16-hour course which - unlike many other states - requires demonstrating shooting proficiency at a range. You must hit the target at varying distances at least 21 out of thirty times.

Jim Wenger says, for him, it's a matter of protection, and being prepared.

"I don't want to be faced with a situation where all I have to respond to a bad guy is harsh language," he said.

"You need a clear signal that these are not your streets. My life is not for your taking or maiming as you wish. I will fight back," Lawson said.

Lawson is one of more than 1,200 conceal-carry instructors certified by the state. She also happens to be one of the co-plaintiffs in the landmark case McDonald vs Chicago in which the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the city of Chicago's handgun ban. State police are to begin processing the conceal-carry applications shortly after the first of the new year.


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