SPRINGFIELD - A permit to carry a concealed weapon in Illinois could cost about $242, according to an Illinois State Police estimate.
In a lengthy hearing Tuesday, a panel of state lawmakers heard the pros and cons of bringing Illinois in line with the rest of the nation when it comes to carrying loaded weapons in public.
A state police official told members of the House Judiciary Committee that the agency would need to hire additional personnel and upgrade its computer system in order to properly process permits and keep guns out of the hands of felons and mentally unstable applicants.
"This will take time to implement," said Darrin Clark. "It should not be rushed."
Clark said the potential price tag is based on covering the state's cost if an estimated 150,000 Illinoisans apply for a concealed weapons permit.
"This is all speculative," Clark said.
The hearing came as a new poll from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University showed a wide majority of Illinoisans want more restrictions on the sale of guns and large-capacity ammunition magazines.
The poll of 600 registered voters, taken January 27 through February 8, also showed a majority want to make assault weapons illegal.
In all, 72 percent of Illinoisans said "laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict."
And, despite the perception that downstate voters are opposed to more gun control laws, the poll showed that 66 percent of voters outside of the Chicago area favor stricter gun control laws.
Lawmakers are working to draft legislation that would bring Illinois in compliance with a federal court order to allow citizens to carry concealed weapons. Gov. Pat Quinn also wants to ban military-style weapons in response to the killing of 20 school children and six staff members at an elementary school in Connecticut.
Clark said any concealed carry legislation should be very specific about where people can carry loaded weapons in order to make it clear to police what it legal and what is illegal.
University officials told lawmakers they want to prohibit weapons on campus. Business owners want exemptions that would allow them to ban weapons not only in their places of business, but in parking lots as well.
Gun control supporters said the proposed law should give local law enforcement authorities the ability to sign off on who gets a concealed carry permit.
"Their discretion could prove to be invaluable," said Mary Kay Mace, whose daughter was killed in a shooting rampage at Northern Illinois University five years ago.
Lee Goodman of the Stop Concealed Carry Coalition said Illinois should ignore the federal appeals court ruling and wait for the Illinois Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue.
"You should be working for laws that reduce the threat of violence," Goodman said. "The more guns there are available to people. the more gun injuries and shootings you're going to have."
Gun rights supporters disagreed.
"The criminals are going to have guns no matter what," said state Rep. Dennis Reboletti, R-Elmhurst.