by Saimah Shareef
In June of 2013 the state legislature passed Illinois’ version of the concealed carry licensing statute, making it the last state in the nation to do so. Although signed in June of last year, the legislation did not go into effect until January 1st of this year. According to this new law, the responsibility for background checks and licensing falls upon the Illinois State Police before issuing the license to carry a firearm in the state. That process has already begun and the issuing of permits state-wide may begin in March or April.
Michael Salatino, Chief of Police at Benedictine University, described the process to obtain a license for concealed carry. According to the process, individuals must apply for a permit. Having applied for the permit, the applicant is subject to a background check to eliminate the possibility of situations such as mental illness or a criminal background, which may hinder the issuing of a gun license. Once the permit is approved the individual must go through a classroom, firing range and safety courses to ensure their own safety as well as others’. Paperwork at the end of all the classes and education must be submitted to affirm that the individual applying for a firearm has done so. Then the actual license to carry a gun would be issued.
Illinois was the last state to pass the concealed carry law. The notion of possessing guns may seem scary to a lot of people, especially college students. However, not everyone is anxious by the new statute.
Benedictine student, Marina Kulakova, expressed her support of the new law. “I’m all for it. It could be a lot safer, because everyone would have a gun and people would be cautious. I feel like there would be less robberies, muggings and gang shootouts.”
All private and public universities and colleges are, by statute, protected areas. This means that even though an individual may have the legal right to carry a gun, he/she may not bring it on to a college campus, including residence halls. One of the exceptions, however, applies to students who drive to school. The statute allows commuters to secure their firearm unseen in their motor vehicle before exiting their vehicle upon reaching campus.
Any individual caught on campus carrying a gun without a license will be arrested. The consequences for individuals that do have a license but have not secured their weapon are up to the police, even thought that is also an arrestable offense. In order to provide the proper precautions, University Police will also be providing gun lockers for up to eight individuals that are carrying a firearm but may not have the proper storage facilities.
To alert the Benedictine community, all six main entrances have been posted with signs that disallow the carrying of weapons into buildings. Salatino is also looking to have University Police post signs in residence halls as well as increased awareness education. Although there may be skepticism regarding the new law, Salatino describes the process as a “learning curve”.
“Everyone will eventually get comfortable with it. It’s a whole new dynamic; individuals walking around with gun. However, we can all rely on responsibility on every person’s part. If not that then the community can rely on University Police acting swiftly and efficiently.” Salatino stated.
In order to identify individuals carrying firearms or firearm ammunition, a FOID (Firearm Owner’s Identification) card is issued at the end of the process.
According to the Illinois State Police website, “The FOID card was created in 1968, by the FOID Act, as a way to identify those persons eligible to possess and acquire firearms and firearm ammunition as part of a public safety initiative in the State of Illinois. The FOID card is NOT a “conceal and carry” card.”