Residents in Orland Park, Orland Hills and Homer Glen applied in January for concealed carry permits at rates higher than most of their neighbors in Cook and Will counties, according to data obtained from the Illinois State Police.

As of the last week of January, 7,843 Cook County residents had applied for permission to carry a concealed weapon, as allowed under the state law that took effect this year. That’s a rate of about 15 people per 10,000. Orland Park, by contrast, had about 40 people per 10,000 apply for a permit, and Orland Hills had 32 applications per 10,000 residents, state police data showed.

Interest by residents in Homer Glen was even higher, with 51 concealed carry applications per 10,000 residents. The rate in Will County is about 35 per 10,000, or 2,431 applications overall.

Illinois is about one month into its new law that allows residents to carry concealed guns on a permit-only basis. Illinois was the only state that still banned concealed carry until a 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the state’s ban unconstitutional in December 2012.

The new law requires 16 hours of training before residents can apply for a permit.

Interest in Homer Glen may have been buoyed by local leaders.

Will County Board member Steve Balich, R-Homer Glen, said he wrote a resolution that urged Illinois lawmakers to create a concealed carry law before they were forced to do so. Illinois lawmakers passed the new law in July 2013.

The Will County resolution, which passed on a 15-6 vote in May, was a message to state lawmakers: “We in Will County want Second Amendment rights,” Balich said.

Balich has since helped put together two concealed carry classes to help residents who want to obtain a state permit. He said about 120 people signed up for those two safety classes.

“There are a lot of people that are waiting to see what’s gonna happen,” Balich said. “I think there’s a lot of groups” putting classes together.

Balich said he applied for his concealed carry license. “I didn’t get it yet, but I applied,” he said. He plans to put together a third class in Homer Glen in late February or early March.

County Board member Ragan Freitag, R-Wilmington, attended one of the classes Balich helped assemble. She said the course focused mostly on handling the weapons and safety, and not so much on when and where to appropriately use firearms.

“They’re not promoting to go out and be offensive with this license,” Freitag said, “but to be defensive.”

Freitag, an attorney who doesn’t own a gun but says she’s looking at picking up either a 38-special or a .357 if her application is approved, said she’s looking to bring residents from her district together for a safety class similar to Balich’s.

Colleen Daley, executive director of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, said the group conducted statewide polls in April and the results showed “across the board people are typically in our corner.” She said Illinois residents support the idea of measures such as universal background checks and that “the majority of people (polled) were opposed to concealed carry.”

Daley doesn’t describe the group as anti-guns, but she says she works to educate people about the potential danger and violence associated with firearms.

Four weeks after the state’s new law took effect, data showed residents had lower interest in obtaining permits in Chicago and the collar counties than in the more conservative southern counties of Illinois, which didn’t surprise Daley.

“Cook County isn’t a huge gun culture,” Daley said. “Individuals in northern Illinois have very different views than people in southern Illinois.”

Daley said her group is pushing legislators for a statewide database that would log details of every shooting.

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