Since January, here in Illinois you could call it an arms race. Less than three months and 13,478 state residents have been given permission to carry a concealed handgun. But the I-Team has learned that some gun owners who thought they were eligible for permits no longer are after an investigation of illegal certification.
A minimum of 16 hours of training with a certified firearms instructor must be completed before an Illinois resident can apply for a concealed carry permit. But not everyone is playing by the new rules, according to Illinois State Police investigators.
Nearly 100 people who took their concealed carry training at Sparky's Armory have been notified that they will not be getting their permits.
The I-Team has learned that two firearms instructors teaching classes at this downstate gun range were short-cutting the curriculum and passing students without the required hours, police say. The two men have been stripped of their state certification for improperly training, according to state police.
It was public complaints that brought down the operation according to state police director Hiram Grau, who says their "efforts to encourage applicants to report suspicious activity or inconsistencies at every level are working and we want to remind the public that anyone caught abusing the system could potentially face state and federal fraud charges, including jail time."
Of the nearly 60,000 concealed weapons applicants, local law enforcement is objecting to nearly 1,200 for various background and character reasons. So far, 269 applicants have been flat out refused a permit.
The downstate concealed carry instructors we told you about were easy to catch according to investigators. The two men had advertised on Facebook, even listing cheaper prices for few hours than required by state law. The I-Team contacted Sparky's Armory, but they directed us to an attorney who has not returned our calls.