DeKALB – Molly Martinson is not comfortable with the idea of carrying a gun.
She has a Firearm Owner's Identification card from the Illinois State Police as well as her own gun. But when the application for a concealed-carry permit becomes available in 2014, the 34-year-old Rochelle resident will pass.
"I just don't feel comfortable having a gun on me," Martinson said.
Gun owners statewide will decide whether getting a license to carry a concealed weapon is the best decision for them.
On July 9, the Illinois General Assembly overrode Gov. Pat Quinn's amendatory veto of the concealed-carry legislation that was passed in the spring. With the override, Illinois joined the rest of the nation in allowing some kind of concealed carry.
But carrying a concealed weapon is still illegal without a permit from Illinois State Police. On their website, officials with the state police said applications for the permit will be available by Jan. 5.
A concealed-carry applicant must be at least 21 years old, have a valid FOID card if he is an Illinois resident, undergo a criminal background check and complete 16 hours of firearms training.
Active-duty police officers, as well as certain retired officers, are exempt from the training. Members of the U.S. armed forces would only have to take eight hours of training.
But firearms instructors such as Dave Lombardo, president of Safer USA, are still waiting to see what kind of training is needed, and who is eligible to teach.
"We fully intend to offer Illinois concealed carry to the public," Lombardo said.
Lombardo already has concealed-carry permits for Florida and Utah, which allow him to carry a concealed weapon in 33 other states. Lombardo described a firearm as being a tool, and there are rules on how it's used.
"It's like putting on your shoes," Lombardo said. "Carrying a concealed firearm, in and of itself, it's not something that affects the individual. It affords you the protection should you find yourself in that situation."
James Graff, owner of Graff Guns in Sandwich, said the required training seems to be similar to what a private security guard would need. Security guards are required to take 20 hours of training.
Graff said many of his customers have expressed interest in the training, and that many people who go to Chicago regularly are concerned about their safety.
"A lot of people say they go to the city, and they have their reservations – even if they work there on a daily basis," Graff said.
Retired Sycamore resident Charles Gibbens said he does not own a gun, and he is not motivated to get one as a result of the concealed-carry bill's passage. In his opinion, only certain people with certain jobs need to carry a concealed weapon.
"For those who need to carry a concealed weapon, yes," Gibbens said. "But there are few of those people, of course. Like a banker ... people in that category."
Dan Lohmeier, a 62-year-old truck driver living in DeKalb, expressed similar sentiments. He said he could understand if someone carried a concealed weapon because it was required for work, although he thinks the media overplay tragedies involving guns while dismissing cases where guns save lives.
Lohmeier said he wouldn't carry a weapon unless he was hauling something potentially dangerous such as hazardous materials or ammunition.
"There might be a need for it," Lohmeier said.