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Sheriff's Office slams proposed limit on background checks for concealed carry

Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Chicago Sun-Times
by Frank Main

The Cook County Sheriff’s office on Tuesday raised concerns about a proposal that would block state police and local law enforcement agencies from using the statewide criminal history clearinghouse to determine whether applicants for concealed carry permits pose a public-safety risk.

Illinois is the last state to permit residents to carry concealed firearms, and the state is expected to start issuing permits in April. Cara Smith, a top policy adviser to Sheriff Tom Dart, said the proposed legislative rule would make it virtually impossible to file objections to concealed carry applications within the 30 days allowed.

Illinois residents must have a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card to apply for a concealed carry permit. Felony convictions bar Illinois residents from holding a FOID card. But a person with five or more arrests and no convictions would still be able to obtain a FOID card and obtain a concealed carry permit if there were no objections.

Smith acknowledged the sheriff’s office could search a person’s criminal history in the Cook County clerk of court’s computer. But the sheriff would not have access to criminal records in every other county in Illinois if the rule barring the use of the statewide clearinghouse is approved, she said.

“This casts doubt over the whole process,” she said.

Dart is expected to discuss the issue at a news conference Tuesday.

Illinois has been feverishly ramping up for the new concealed carry law.

The state police have approved thousands of instructors to carry out the required training for Illinois residents. There is no standardized curriculum.

The Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board is expected to increase the number of hours of required training for rookie police officers from 480 to 560, including about 10 hours on concealed carry. At a news conference last month, Kevin McClain, the director of the board, stressed that officers are going to have to show restraint and treat legal gun carriers with respect during traffic and street stops. Under the new law, gun carriers are required to tell officers they are carrying a concealed firearm, if asked. Officers will be trained to always ask drivers if they’re armed, officials say.

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