DIXON – A week ago, just one person in the Sauk Valley was a certified concealed-carry instructor. That number has since increased to 15.
Charlie Thomas of Dixon is among them. He plans to teach classes for the concealed carry of weapons at the local VFW post.
He signed up after state Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, informed the public about the state police’s process for issuing permits allowing concealed carry.
“I didn’t realize they were doing it right away,” said Thomas, who is an Army retiree.
He said he had nearly 50 names of people who want to take his course – about a quarter of whom are women.
“The state police are moving as quickly as they can,” he said. “Once we get the rest of the story from the state police, we can start setting dates and putting the word out.”
Eddie Branch, who works at Rigler’s Shooting & Sports Supply in Rock Falls, hopes to start offering classes before the end of the month. He is conducting the classes along with Howard Melchi, John Anzelmo, and Dakota Hagerman. Melchi and Anzelmo have applied for permits, but are not yet approved, Branch said.
“We have to get insurance. You can’t just be an instructor and do these classes and not have insurance. You have a high risk of liability. We hope everything falls in place this month,” Branch said.
Last week, the state police’s list of certified instructors consisted of 54 people, most of whom were from the Chicago area.
This week, though, the list was updated and now consists of 757 instructors. It includes two from Lee County, three from Whiteside County and 10 from Ogle County, but none from either Bureau or Carroll counties.
Training based on approved curriculums may start immediately.
According to the state police, a “significant” number of firearms instructor applications were either incomplete or contained errors. The agency has sent letters to them seeking corrections.
The Illinois State Rifle Association, a gun rights advocacy group, expects to see 1,000 instructors teaching concealed-carry classes.
Last year, a federal appellate court gave the state 6 months to pass a law allowing concealed carrying of weapons. After months of negotiations, the Legislature enacted such a measure, making Illinois the 50th state to permit concealed carry.
Anyone who wants a concealed-carry permit must successfully complete 16 hours of training from a state-approved instructor.
Honorably discharged veterans only need to take 8 hours of instruction.
Sauk Valley instructors
Ed Meine, Earlville
Charlie Thomas, Dixon
Jon Beck, Mount Morris
Tim Brechon Jr., Byron
James Carson, Rochelle
Garry Grabins, Leaf River
Joshua Harmon, Ashton
Duane Linscott, Oregon
Scott Schultz, Oregon
Jonathan Toth, Oregon
Ronnie Vandergrift, Rochelle
Jason White, Oregon
Eddie Branch Jr., Rock Falls
Leon Davila, Sterling
Dakota Hagerman, Rock Falls