SPRINGFIELD (AP) – Almost one in four of the roughly 23,000 Illinois residents who have applied for concealed carry permits live in Cook County, but new figures from the state police show most of the relative interest comes from rural areas of the state, when factoring in population.
Data released this week show the highly populated county that’s home to Chicago leads the rankings with more than 5,300 applications filed between Jan. 5 and Jan. 13.
Suburban Chicago’s densely populated Will and DuPage counties followed in second and third with 1,759 and 1,589 applications, respectively.
But on a per-capita basis, rural counties have the highest proportion of applicants compared to urban and suburban communities.
When comparing application numbers to a county’s population, Cumberland County in east-central Illinois ranks first, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Fifty-six people there have applied for the permits. Cumberland has about 11,000 residents. In White County in southern Illinois, there have been 70 applications so far. The county has about 15,000 residents. And in Wabash County in southeastern Illinois, there were 52 applications. The county has about 12,000 residents.
On a per-capita basis, Cook County ranks last among Illinois’ 102 counties, the newspaper reported.
State Rep. Brandon Phelps, a Harrisburg Democrat, was the lead architect of the measure that led Illinois to become the last state in the country to allow residents to carry concealed weapons. He tells the Sun-Times he already has applied for a permit and hopes to carry a .45-calibur handgun. He said he’s not surprised by the interest in rural areas relative to populated regions of the state.
“I think there’s lot of people downstate that are really pro-Second Amendment,” he said. “They’ve been waiting a long time to exercise their constitutional right.”
No permits have been issued yet, because law enforcement officials are still reviewing the applications.
People who apply for the permits have to undergo 16 hours of classes taught by a licensed instructor.
“The legislation has given us a maze to go through, but these people are doing everything to be law-abiding citizens,” Ed Bryant, a pastor and concealed carry instructor in Lombard told The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald.
The law bans carrying concealed firearms in places such as schools, child-care facilities, courthouses, public transportation, college and professional sports stadiums, and in establishments where alcohol sales make up more than 50 percent of a business’s receipts.
Illinois lawmakers have projected that there would be 350,000 to 400,000 applications for concealed carry permits in the first year of the law.
Applications can be submitted online.