Firearms training expected to shoot up with concealed carry

By WEEK Producer

July 10, 2013 Updated Jul 11, 2013 at 9:46 AM CDT

WOODFORD COUNTY, Ill. -- The National Rifle Association says Illinois gun owners should not have to wait nine months to carry concealed weapons.

A concealed carry law was passed Tuesday in Springfield, but there is no system in place for granting permits and training requirements are yet to be determined.

Lee Merriman is a certified NRA firearms instructor. He is licensed to carry a concealed weapon in over 30 states and, as a resident of Illinois, he is looking forward to finally doing the same in his home state.

"We can live with this. We're just happy to get concealed carry in the state of Illinois," said Merriman. "We're tired of being the last one to have this."

The concealed carry law passed in Springfield on Tuesday will not go into effect immediately, but already Merriman and his colleagues are receiving calls from people who want training.

He expects the demand for firearms instruction to double, but said people can't do much until the state settles on training requirements.

He thinks those requirements will mirror what many other states mandate.

"A lot of (training) is just on the law and probably 50 percent of it is on gun safety and handling a gun. I think 8 hours of training is probably going to be on the Illinois law," said Merriman.

However, firearms instructor Jon Simmons is skeptical about whether concealed carry applications will be processed quickly and that access to training might not meet demand.

"I think the governor is going to make it as onerous as possible," said Simmons. "He's probably going to make training as difficult as possible so there are people that really should be able to carry a firearm that may not have the opportunity to even get to a class or be able to get through a class."

The Illinois State Police anticipate over 300,000 applications for concealed carry permits in the first year alone.

More information on concealed carry in Illinois can be found on the Illinois State Police website.