SPRINGFIELD — Almost one in four of the roughly 23,000 Illinois residents who have applied for concealed-carry permits live in Cook County, but new figures from the state police show rural areas taking the lead when relative population is factored in.
Data released this week shows the highly populated county that’s home to Chicago leads the rankings with more than 5,300 applications filed between Jan. 5 and Jan. 13. Suburban Chicago’s densely populated Will and DuPage counties followed in second and third with 1,759 and 1,589 applications respectively.
But when comparing application numbers to a county’s population, rural counties have the highest proportion of applicants compared to urban and suburban communities.
For example, Woodford County has 154 applications on file, but that number is almost 40 per 10,000 people compared with 10 per 10,000 in Cook County. On that per-capita basis, Cook County ranks last among Illinois’ 102 counties.
Other area counties with higher per-capita numbers include DeWitt (45 applications; 33 per 10,000 people) and Ford (43 applications; 30.5 per 10,000 people), according to State Police statistics.
McLean County is among the counties with a lower per-capita figure. There were 325 applications filed as of mid-week, or 19 per 10,000 people. Similarly, Champaign County has recorded 305 applications, or 15 per 10,000 people.
“I would have thought it would have been a lot more, but I also think that the residents around here might have expected a big rush at the beginning and are just waiting for things to slow down and then get their education and everything in order,” said McLean County Sheriff Mike Emery. “Today, the figures may be a little low. Next week, they may be well above that.”
No permits have actually been issued yet because law enforcement officials are still reviewing the applications.
People who apply for the permits have to undergo 16 hours of classes taught by a licensed instructor.
People who are 21 or older, have a valid firearm owners identification card, complete a 16-hour training course and pass a background check can obtain a concealed carry permit for a fee. The five-year permits cost $150 for residents and $300 for nonresidents.
The law bans carrying concealed firearms in places such as schools, child-care facilities, courthouses, public transportation, college and professional sports stadiums and in establishments where alcohol sales make up more than 50 percent of a business’s receipts.
Illinois lawmakers have projected that there would be 350,000 to 400,000 applications for concealed carry permits in the first year of the law.
Applications can be submitted online.