Instructor anticipates high demand for classes

By NICOLE LAFOND
For the Mahomet Citizen

Now that the Illinois State Police have begun accepting concealed-carry license applications, a local firearms instructor says that he anticipates a big boom in demand for his concealed-carry instruction courses offered in Mahomet.

“I think a lot of people were waiting until Jan. 5 because they wanted to make sure there weren’t going to be any more changes. People just actually wanted to see it happen,” Dean Hazen, a master firearms instructor who holds classes at the Urbana Sportsman’s Club, said last week.

“As we move closer to the date the numbers have increased, but I expect there to be a big boom after Jan. 5. People will be able to see this whole thing actually did happen.”

The training Hazen speaks of is one of seven requirements needed in order for an Illinois resident to be eligible for a concealed-carry license.

Applicants are required to complete 16 hours of concealed-carry firearms training from an Illinois State Police approved instructor. Training hours must include classroom and shooting range instruction.

Mahomet resident Chuck Thompson plans on taking the final eight-hour course needed to be eligible for a concealed-carry license sometime in March. Although he believes it is “about time” the concealed-carry ban was lifted in Illinois, Thompson doesn’t anticipate many changes in his day-to-day routine once he receives his license.

“I don’t anticipate actually carrying the firearm much, but it will be nice to be able to if I so desire,” he said.

Hazen, along with two other ISP-approved instructors, Rick Noble and Josh Young, rent out the Sportsman’s Club’s facilities to teach the courses.

Hazen, who was formerly a firearms instructor in Arizona and is now the owner of The Gun Experts, a firearm and ammunition sales and trading company in Urbana, headed up the effort to begin teaching concealed-carry courses as soon as he felt the law was near passage.

Since then Hazen and his team have taught four classes at the Sportsman’s Club. Classes consist of two eight-hour training days. Day one is run like a National Rifle Association (NRA) basic pistol course, in which students are taught the basics. At the end of the first day students are given a NRA-issued certificate, which can be used as a concealed-carry permit in other states, Hazen said.

The second day is a legal training day that addresses Illinois-specific and universal training requirements. Students qualify at the end of the day two, which consists of firing 30 rounds.

“Students do shoot during day one, as well, but it is very basic just to bring people up to a certain level of proficiency,” Hazen said.

In order to participate, students must be at least 18 years old. But Illinois residents must be at least 21 in order to obtain a concealed-carry license.
Hazen’s next class will take place on Jan. 18 and 19 at the Urbana Sportsmen’s Club.

When the State Police began accepting applications on Jan. 5, it was a final step that is “long overdue” in the passage of a concealed-carry law in Illinois, according to Hazen.

“In many ways [the process] has become much more difficult than it needed to be,” Hazen said. “I think the training requirement is a good thing, but it has been a very painful road to go down. It’s been very controversial here and it’s very much driven by Chicago.”

The licenses will come at a cost. In addition to a $150 fee, applicants will have to pay for their training classes. A two-day course with Hazen and his team costs $250 and a one-day course $125.

Although the ISP began accepting applications this week, it may take months for applicants to be allowed to carry their weapons. The State Police have up to 90 days to approve or deny an application, provided the application is complete, the Associated Press reported.

This summer, Illinois became the last state in the nation to pass a concealed-carry law. The ban on the public possession of concealed guns was deemed unconstitutional by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last December.
 

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