CARTERVILLE — Southern Illinois sees a surge of people training to carry concealed weapons as the state moves closer to making it legal.
Concealed carry classes are booming at John A. Logan College these days. Officials credit the recent court ruling in Illinois that ordered lawmakers to lift the state’s ban on concealed firearms within six months. However, the training might not necessarily be recognized under the new Illinois law.
More than 300 people are expected to fill the seats of a concealed carry training course this weekend at JALC. Jay Bernhardt, 26, of Johnston City is one of them.
“To kind of know my rights as a gun owner and kind of what’s expected state-to-state,” he said.
Bernhardt likes to travel and wants to make sure he’s protected on the road. This weekend he’ll sit in the class for four hours in hopes of earning a permit that will allow him to carry in 31 states.
“I know some states you have to have it visible, some states you to have to just have it in a container so just, learning that is something I’m looking forward to but just the ability to have it in an arm’s reach is something that you just never know when you’re gonna need it,” Bernhardt explained.
Casey Fuller is the course instructor with 25 years of firearms experience. He says the anticipation of a concealed carry law in Illinois has been good for business.
“Just like the purchase of firearms and ammunition, there’s been a big spike in these classes as well,” he said.
Fuller is hopeful concealed carry will pass in Illinois, but says the concealed carry permit earned in his class won’t necessarily certify you to carry in Illinois.
“There’s no bill or policy that’s in place so, you know, hopefully all the students that have taken my class in the past will qualify for Illinois but the chances of that happening are probably low,” Fuller explained.
But this weekend is just a starting point. Bernhardt says carrying a weapon is a great responsibility and he’s just glad for the opportunity to take hold of his second amendment right.
“I think it stems back to just good, honest citizens that don’t break the law and want to protect themselves against criminals,” he added.
The permit earned in the Logan class is valid for five years and training is not required for renewal. No word yet on when the next course will be available.