In January 2014, Illinois began permitting concealed carry. Since then, nearly 224,000 people statewide have completed the requisite training and paid the necessary fees to obtain a CCL. In the first year alone, 91,874 people go a license, which dropped to 55,150 the following year, but rose to 80,425 in 2016.

This story from quotes several gun owners who have been carrying for about three years now to see what things are like now that anyone could be legally carrying a firearm.

“In the first year, people were qualifying in ice storms and in sleet, they wanted to have it that badly,” Richard Pearson, the Illinois State Rifle Association’s executive director, said in the story. “But it’s leveled out since then.” He said estimations had 300,000 people being issued CCL permits within five years, so things are ahead of schedule.

“After that first rush, it was the people who were saying, ‘We’ll see what happens. I’d like to get it but…,” Williams. “A couple of terrorist attacks here and there, that really triggered people.”

Theresa Sherwood got her CCL in January 2014 and became an instructor after owning a gun for about 35 years. She bought her first gun decades ago after being threatened by her ex-husband, she said in the story, even though she couldn’t carry it legally.

“Yes, I do (carry), and it’s because of all the violence with ISIS, and you never know when that is going to occur,” she said in the story. “Also, people are desperate nowadays because the economy is not what it used to be. Things are just more of a threat now than it was back when I was younger.”

Sherwood says carrying a firearm makes her feel empowered.

“I feel that if I have an occurrence where someone is threatening my life or someone else’s, that I can take action,” she said in the story.

Currently, classes for a CCL range from $150 to $250 for a 16-hour course. It includes and instructor explaining the state laws and a person’s rights when it comes to self-defense. Additionally, basic firearms safety is taught.

Then, a field test must be completed in which the applicant must hit a target 21 out of 30 times from 5 yards, 7 yards, and 10 yards. Once a person has completed this course, the state police have 90 days to issue a permit, which then costs the applicant $150.

The permit, which all told can costs as much as $400 for a first-time applicant, is then valid for five years.

“Carrying a firearm in a public place is a huge responsibility,” said Randy Wilson in the story, a part-time Abingdon police officer and the owner of Central Defense Firearms Group. “The good thing that I see on this is that we (Central Defense Firearms Group) put most of the training and the responsibility on the people themselves. We talk about the mindset, the law — and there is a lot of discussion about that to reinforce the notion that in the moment, Randy Wilson is not going to be responsible for you pulling that trigger or drawing your weapon. It’s ultimately up to them. We encourage people to read the statute thoroughly before they carry.”

The state didn’t begin allowing concealed carry until a federal appeals court ruled the state’s carry ban as unconstitutional in 2012. Lawmakers then spent six months crafting a bill and then gave the state police another six months to prepare. Illinois was the last state in the nation to enact some kind of concealed carry permitting, though many may-issue states have extremely restrictive policies.

From the story:

“Gun ownership as a whole is up, Williams said. Currently, according to the Illinois State Rifle Association, 2.1 million statewide hold firearm ownership or FOID cards. That’s nearly double the number it was six years ago. To him, the numbers show one clear thing — the fears of some that concealed carry would turn Illinois into a shooting range just didn’t happen.”

“If all those people out there are worried that their neighbor has a FOID card, they need to realize that every FOID card holder goes through a background check and having a concealed carry is another check. When people talk about gun owners being irresponsible, that’s just not true,” Williams said.

The story says it appears the introduction of concealed carry didn’t cause any additional problems as some feared it would and that an informal survey of gun owners, police chiefs, and local officials shows there have been few, if any, problems with concealed carriers or instructors.

Peoria Police spokesperson Amy Dotson said in the story that “concealed carry has been a non-issue.”

“I think people, once they get a CCL, they take it very seriously. They have it there for a reason, their own person protection. So far, thank goodness, the occasion hasn’t arisen for anyone to use their weapon.”

Still, there are many businesses in the state that have barred concealed carry on the premises, along with schools and some government buildings, which are legally designated gun-free zones.

In the story, Tom Friday, 44, of Peoria says its illogical to allow concealed carry in one place and not another.

“How can you let people not carry in a church if we have decided that it is acceptable to carry on a sidewalk?” he asked. “Why then would this building or that be different? We (as a society) have decided that right or wrong, it is acceptable for public safety. Once we have done that, then I see it as illogical not to do so.”

For the full story from, go here.