STERLING – Local police agencies are playing a role in the review of concealed carry applications locally.
Under a law that took effect Jan. 1, state police are in charge of approving permits for concealed carry of guns, but city and county law enforcement agencies may have a 30-day window to object to applicants.
Compelled by a federal court to pass such legislation, Illinois is the last state to allow concealed carry.
Rock Falls Police Chief Mike Kuelper has asked to review concealed carry applications from Sterling, Rock Falls and Whiteside County. Earlier this week, his department had received 85 applications to review, he said. The department has yet to object to any.
Kuelper said he would object to someone who is under investigation for domestic violence but not yet charged – a case the state police wouldn’t necessarily know about.
If local police object to an applicant, he said, state police can ask local officials for documentation.
“So far, everyone is good,” the chief said.
Nearly all of the 85 applicants are men, and the average age appears to be about 55, Kuelper said.
Sterling Police Chief Ron Potthoff said his agency decided to review applicants from Sterling, Rock Falls, Dixon and Whiteside, Lee and Carroll counties.
The department chose a larger area, he said, because many people who work in Sterling live elsewhere.
“I have 206 [applications]. We haven’t rejected any of them,” Potthoff said in an interview this week. “We have three people able to look at them: me and two lieutenants.”
He said more clarification is needed for some parts of the concealed carry law.
“Illinois doesn’t want concealed carry,” the chief said. “They want to make it as hard as possible to do it.”
Lee County Sheriff John Varga said his department has had trouble on its end with its password for the system. It is working with state police on the issue, he said.
He said his department would keep an eye out for any applicant who has had brushes with the law or has mental health issues.
“We’re looking for those who might have fallen through the cracks, which shouldn’t happen,” he said.
State police have 90 days to act on applications. Within those 90 days, local law enforcement is allowed 30 days for review.
Concealed carry applications by county
The number of applications for concealed carry licenses by county:
Bureau: 88 (25.16 applications per 10,000 people)
Carroll: 39 (25.35 applications per 10,000 people)
Lee: 79 (21.93 applications per 10,000 people)
Ogle: 145 (27.10 applications per 10,000 people)
Whiteside: 80 (13.68 applications per 10,000 people)
Source: Illinois State Police