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Concealed carry catches on

Local police have objected to 3 of 300 applications for permits

Monica Maschak -
Dennis Leifheit, owner of ZZ Cops Gun Room, instructs a Carry Legally in Illinois Course at a training facility in DeKalb on January 25.
Monica Maschak - Dennis Leifheit, owner of ZZ Cops Gun Room, instructs a Carry Legally in Illinois Course at a training facility in DeKalb on January 25.

DeKALB – About 300 DeKalb County residents have applied for permits to carry concealed guns, with local instructors saying the first wave of applicants is a group that had been eagerly waiting for Illinois to allow them to carry firearms.

Since the state started accepting applications a month ago, more than 36,000 Illinois residents have applied, according to data from the Illinois State Police, 298 coming from DeKalb County.

Among the DeKalb County applicants is James Crissman, who said won't carry a gun every day. In fact, he's not sure how he'll use his concealed carry permit once he gets it later this year.

"I'm just interested in having it," Crissman, 70-year-old Sycamore resident, said during a break in a concealed carry course. "I might carry it when I'm out and about or to go shooting at a range."

Crissman is one of dozens of people to take a concealed carry course offered by Dennis Leifheit, owner of ZZ Cops Gunroom in Sycamore.

Leifheit, who is also a retired police officer, has offered a class nearly every weekend since November, with at least 10 people attending each one. He frequently receives calls about the Illinois permit, which costs $150 and requires most applicants take eight to 16 hours of training.

Some question whether the state police will stick to the guideline that permits be issued within 90 days as long as the applicant supplies fingerprints. Without fingerprints, applications can take 120 days.

According to Illinois State Police spokeswoman Monique Bond, instructors who applied during the early application period on Dec.18 should receive their permits this spring, which would fall around the 90-day mark.

"It's a strong possibility that permits could be issued mid-March," Bond said.

Dan Schroeder, lead firearms instructor for Metro Training Group, believes a second wave of permit seekers will emerge this spring.

"I think the second rush will come when people actually have the permits," Schroeder said.

Schroeder said an ideal size for a concealed carry class would be 18 people. Of late, most classes have been less than 10 people, which he attributes to the lull between people who had eagerly awaited Illinois having a concealed carry law and those who have a mild interest in the permit. 

In the classes he's currently teaching, most of the students are men who have experience with guns.

"Virtually 100 percent of them are what you would describe as 'gun people.'" Schroeder said. "Although they do come from all walks of life. You'd be surprised at the range of professions we see."

Local attorney and DeKalb County Board Member Riley Oncken, plans to carry his gun anywhere he can once he receives his permit.

"I've had the desire to get a concealed carry permit since college," Oncken, 34, said. "I want it on the off chance I have to use it to protect my life or my family's life. Or as a potential deterrent."

State law prohibits permit holders from carrying guns into schools, child care facilities, courthouses, public transportation, colleges, professional sports stadiums and establishments where alcohol makes up more than 50 percent of the business’s sales. Private business owners also have the option not to allow concealed firearms.

Local law enforcement agencies have objected to only three of the 300 applications, or around 1 percent. 

The Sycamore Police Department objected to one application. Sandwich Police Chief Jim Bianchi objected to two of the applications from people he said the police department has had run-ins with before.

Bianchi reviews every application that comes from Sandwich residents on a monthly basis as part of his job.

“I do it for the safety of the people of Sandwich,” Bianchi said.

The state licensing board is expected to take up the objections within 30 days. The board consists of a former judge, two former prosecutors, three former FBI agents and a psychiatry professor.

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