CHICAGO (AP) — Police across Illinois have objected to just 236 applications from people seeking to carry concealed weapons out of 33,631 submitted to the state police.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported Friday that a state licensing board will consider objections within 30 days of a police department filing one. The board has a former judge, two former prosecutors, three former FBI agents and a psychiatry professor.
The first licenses to carry concealed weapons could be issued by spring, the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald reported Friday.
"We're probably looking at some permits being issued after the first couple weeks in March," Illinois State Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said. "It's a possibility."
The Cook County Sheriff's office has filed the most objections in the state, with 120. The Chicago Police Department has only filed seven.
"The process for reviewing applications is rightly time-consuming and requires multiple levels of hand entry into various CPD databases," police spokesman Adam Collins said. "We are prioritizing reviews by the application due date and more than 96 percent of the applications remain in our 30-day window for review."
Nearly 8,000 applications had been submitted by Cook County residents through Thursday. That's the most in the state, although smaller counties in other parts of the state have a higher percentage based on population.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has assigned 25 employees to screen concealed carry applications filed by anyone who has lived in Cook County during the past decade. They scan for arrests for gun- or gang-related crimes or violent offenses, along with any history of domestic violence or mental illness.
Dart spokesman Frank Bilecki said the office has identified a total of 360 applications to which it plans to object.
The licensing board must report to the governor and General Assembly on the number of objections it receives and the reason for any denied license.
Illinois was the nation's last state to adopt a law allowing the public possession of concealed weapons when it was approved last summer in response to a federal court order. Applicants must pay a $150 fee and take 16 hours of training — most in the nation.
Glen Ellyn instructor Jim Appleby said his classes — full with 30 students each last fall — have 15 to 20 apiece lately.
"I've had a few students complain that they have to do 16 hours of training," Appleby said. "But after the class they're glad they did it."