Concealed-carry law could boost gun dealers' business

Thursday, July 18, 2013
An employee at Swain’s Guns and Ammo in Jackson shows a Ruger semi-automatic handgun Wednesday that would comply with a concealed-carry permit. (Laura Simon)

Some firearm dealers could see an uptick in business as Illinois' new concealed-carry law goes into effect during the next few months.

Earlier this month, Illinois became the last state to legalize the possession of concealed firearms.

Under the new law, qualified Illinois residents can pay $150 for a five-year permit to carry a concealed weapon. Out-of-state residents who meet the same qualifications can obtain an Illinois concealed-carry permit for $300, according to the Illinois State Police website.

While Missouri recognizes out-of-state permits, Illinois does not, so local residents will have to obtain an Illinois permit if they wish to carry a concealed firearm there, Illinois State Police reported.

Everett Rhine, owner of Rhine's Gun Shop, 1875 Friendship School Road in Anna, Ill., said the new law is likely to stimulate consumers' interest in handguns.

An employee at Swain’s Guns and Ammo in Jackson shows a Ruger semi-automatic handgun Wednesday that would comply with a concealed-carry permit. (Laura Simon)

"I believe in the next month or so, all the shops will start to see an increase in the demand of certain items," said Rhine, who has been in the gun business more than 40 years. "They're going to want concealable guns so they can be ready when they finally get up and start making the concealed permits available to average Joe Blow."

Rhine said he saw a modest bump in business after Missouri's concealed-carry law went into effect in 2004, but the effect was minimal because of federal laws restricting interstate handgun sales.

For the same reason, Carl Wilson doesn't expect the Illinois law to have a major effect on Missouri gun dealers.

Wilson, who works at Swain's Guns and Ammo, 3226 E. Jackson Blvd. in Jackson, said customers have expressed relief that Illinois now has a concealed-carry law.

"People are glad that there is going to be the ability to carry concealed over there," he said.

An employee at Swain’s Guns and Ammo in Jackson shows a Taurus semi-automatic handgun Wednesday that would comply with a concealed-carry permit. (Laura Simon)

Wilson said many Missouri gun owners are reluctant to take their firearms across the state line because Illinois' gun laws are notoriously strict.

"Their law states that the gun must be in a locked case, unloaded, even ... in your vehicle," he said, adding that he has heard "horror stories" from gun owners who had their weapons confiscated after being pulled over in Illinois.

"Most people that travel through the state of Illinois just don't carry firearms," Wilson said.

Rhine and Wilson said changes in gun policies often affect their business, but the laws with the biggest effect may be the ones that don't pass.

Every time politicians discuss new gun regulations, demand and prices increase as customers rush to buy items they fear will be unavailable in the future, Rhine said.

A Ruger semi-automatic handgun for sale at Swain’s Guns and Ammo in Jackson. (Laura Simon)

"The government itself, I believe it's responsible for a lot of this false demand," he said. "They're afraid they're going to outlaw them, and they're not going to be able to get them."

Wilson said his sales have been up since last winter, when President Barack Obama and some congressional leaders began calling for tighter restrictions on certain types of guns and ammunition after a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

"Particularly in the last six months or so after the big shooting that took place in that school, and they began to push this big agenda -- you know, no high-capacity magazines over 10 rounds and all that stuff," Wilson said.

Illinois' new law requires residents to be at least 21, possess a valid firearm owner's ID, submit a completed application and complete 16 hours of training, including classroom and range instruction, according to the Illinois State Police website. Out-of-state applicants are exempt from the firearm owner's ID requirement but must meet all other criteria.

Applicants who have been convicted of a misdemeanor involving the use or threat of physical force or violence or two or more counts of driving while intoxicated in the last five years are not eligible for a concealed-carry permit.

Additionally, applicants are disqualified if they have been in residential or court-ordered drug or alcohol treatment programs in the last five years or have pending warrants, prosecution or other certain legal proceedings, the website states.

Those provisions are similar to Missouri's requirements for a concealed-carry permit, but Missouri permit holders need only eight hours of firearm safety training, according to a brochure from the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Rhine is concerned the time and expense of training could make it difficult for lower-income residents to obtain Illinois permits.

"How many people can afford to go off work for that long a time? Very few," he said.

According to the Illinois State Police website, the state police have 60 days to start approving instructors for the required training.

Rhine hopes to obtain instructor certification so he can offer inexpensive training during evenings and weekends.

"I would very much like to be able to offer these classes," he said. "If I get where I can offer these classes, it will be strictly not-for-profit. ... We will do our utmost to make these classes where they're affordable for everybody."

If Wilson's observations are any indication, Rhine is likely to have plenty of students.

Wilson said two or three instructors have their cards on a bulletin board at Swain's, offering Missouri concealed-carry training for about $80 to $150.

"Those that charge the minimum price that do the classes have more success at it," he said.

Rhine anticipates a decrease in crime in Illinois once the state begins issuing concealed-carry permits.

"Some gangbanger is going to think, 'This guy may have a gun. He may shoot me if I try to take his stuff, so I'm going to not do that,'" he said.


Pertinent address:

875 Friendship School Road, Anna, Ill.

3226 E. Jackson Blvd., Jackson, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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