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home : news : local   May 3, 2016

11/5/2013 5:11:00 AM
Rush is on for conceal-carry classes

Firearms instructor Jay Irizarry exhibits proper holster technique at his training center in rural LaMoille. In January, the state will offer applications for licenses to carry loaded and concealed handguns in public. Applicants must have handgun training, and the rush is on now to attend gun classes.NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
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Firearms instructor Jay Irizarry exhibits proper holster technique at his training center in rural LaMoille. In January, the state will offer applications for licenses to carry loaded and concealed handguns in public. Applicants must have handgun training, and the rush is on now to attend gun classes.

NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
At a glance

– A resident license costs $150 and is valid for five years. It allows a person to carry a handgun, loaded or unloaded, concealed, on their body, inside or outside of a vehicle.

– The state will make applications available in January. The state will maintain a database of license applicants and license holders.


– A 16-hour training course must cover firearms safety, marksmanship, care and cleaning of guns, loading and unloading guns, and owning, storing, carrying and transporting guns. Applicants also must pass an exercise by shooting 10 rounds at 5 yards, 10 rounds at 7 yards and 10 rounds at 10 yards at a B-27 silhouette target.

- The State Police website, provides a searchable database to find training instructors.


– Areas off-limits to concealing and carrying guns include elementary and secondary schools, preschools and childcare facilities; buildings and parking areas of executive and legislative branches of government; courthouses; local government buildings; detention and correctional institutions, prisons and jails; hospitals, mental health facilities and nursing homes; public transportation that uses public funds; taverns; public gatherings and special events; public playgrounds; property of university-related organizations, public and private community colleges, and colleges and universities; gambling/wagering sites; sports stadiums and arenas, and college or professional sporting events; public libraries; airports; amusement parks; zoos and museums; and nuclear energy sites.

– Parks and trails — Concealed and carried guns are prohibited in “any public park, athletic area or athletic facility under the control of a municipality or park district, provided nothing in this section shall prohibit a licensee from carrying a concealed firearm while on a trail or bikeway if only a portion of the trail or bikeway includes a public park.” The law also states that guns may be concealed and carried onto property, bikeways or trails in state parks or other designated public hunting areas or buildings where firearm possession is permitted under the wildlife code.


– Owners of private property may prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms on property under their control by posting signs in accordance with the law. A 4-by-6 inch sign is available for download at Owners of private residences can prohibit guns on their properties but are not required to post this sign to prohibit guns.

Source: Illinois State Police,

Jeff Dankert
NewsTribune Reporter

The rush is on by residents to take gun training classes so they can get state licenses to carry loaded handguns in public.
In July, the Firearm Concealed Carry Act became law in Illinois, the last state to pass such a law. The gun training is a requirement to apply for a state concealed-carry license. The state expects to make license applications available in January.
The state set guidelines for training. Instructors charge his or her own prices. Classes are filling up, according to instructors.
John Atkins, a Peru police detective and firearms instructor, is teaching classes with Final Defense Inc. in Ottawa at Buffalo Range Shooting Park and at The Bone Shed.
Illinois’ 16 hours of required training or credits is the high bar among states, he said.
“It’s the most training a concealed-carry state would have,” Atkins said.
On one weekend in October, Final Defense held two classes over two days for about 100 students, he said.
“I would say the average age in my classes is in the mid- to upper-30s,” Atkins said. About one-third of students are women, he said.
Jay Irizarry of LaMoille has advertised his classes in newspapers and on radio, he said. A weekend class in October was booked at 48 people, he said. About three of every four students are men and the average age is 35 to 40 years old, Irizarry said.
Irizarry teaches gun classes with his wife as part of their business, A2 Firearm and Tactical Training. They have a private range outside LaMoille. Training locations are dictated by access to ranges, because training must include shooting, he said.
Most classes are offered on weekends.  Irizarry is planning a Monday training blitz by offering the full 16-hour class in one day, but he expects few people. That’s because most handgun owners have at last 8 hours of gun course credits through other sources such as the state’s hunter safety courses or National Rifle Association gun classes, he said.
Military discharge papers also count toward 8 hours of training, Irizarry said. Many students are unaware that this and other prior training counts toward the state requirement, as long as they have proof of training, he said.
Ken Simmons, a gun class instructor from North Pekin, said trainers are busy keeping up with public demand because of the new law.
“I think everybody that’s teaching right now is pretty busy,” he said.
Simmons’ students are about 50-50 men and women, he said.
“Most of them say it’s their Constitutional right and they want to be able to protect themselves and their family,” Simmons said. “A lot of guys and gals are wanting to have their class out of the way so the day they post (applications) on the website they can get it. They’re expecting approximately 400,000 applications next year.”
Some rules for concealed and carry are still being worked out, such as how it meshes or contradicts with laws for hunting and public lands, Atkins said.

Jeff Dankert can be reached at (815) 220-6977 or

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