I originally posted this on another forum, but the mods thought it would be good to crosspost. I didn't see any other thread like this, so hopefully this will be something new.
As we all know, Chicago recently passed the “Responsible Gun Ownership Ordinance,” allowing us city residents to finally legally keep handguns within city limits. I've gone through the application process for the Chicago Firearms Permit, and quite surprisingly, received it in the mail on Thursday of last week. I figured I would relate the story for anyone who may be interested.
To start with, soon after the ordinance was passed there was a lot of confusion about the application process. The CPD eventually posted this memo
explaining the application process. The ordinance and all relevant documents can be located at the CPD website.
One of the most frustrating parts to the application process was locating a “state licensed” firearms instructor that would teach an ordinance approved class. I had some other questions that I wanted answered as well, so I called the CPD gun registry department. I admit that I approached the application process with some skepticism, both because the ordinance was so new that nobody was quite sure how it worked and because of the general mentality Chicago has against firearms.
I had some logistical questions due to the timeframes the ordinance specified for registration of previously owned handguns. The ordinance requires all previously unregistered firearms to be registered within 90 days of the ordinance passage, which seems like a nice window to allow you to make your gun legal. Of course, the ordinance also provides for up to 120 days processing time before your CFP could be issued. I was curious if, due to the potential delay of processing, the 90 day window could expire before I received my CFP which would prevent me from getting a registration certificate for my Sig. I also wasn’t sure if the 90 day window applied to me because I never brought my pistol into city limits, which I also wanted to make clear on any application. The officer I spoke with assured me that I could register my handgun at the time of application for the CFP, so that wouldn’t be an issue. This of course did not turn out to be the case.
My other concern was due to the fact that I will be moving to a different apartment soon, and I didn’t know if I should wait to apply since the address would obviously be changing. I learned that the state police so not send out new FOID cards when you submit a change of address, so my old address will be on my FOID card until it needs to be renewed. The officer I was talking to suggested that I submit my application before my move, since my FOID and drivers license have matching addresses and would thus not delay the paperwork.
I then asked if there was a list of approved firearm schools and they provided the URL for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
which they claimed would answer my questions. There is a section for “Firearm Training Course” but the site does not allow you to search for a course. Rather, it is used to either verify if a license number you already know is current, or gives you the documentation to become a licensed instructor. Not very helpful, so I called the office to see if they had a list. They gave me a number to the state police because apparently they would know. The number turned out to be the emergency line, which was super fun and the dispatcher tersely transferred me to the FOID department, who of course had no list. Luckily a quick google search brought me to Fidelity Investigative Training Academy,
which has a course specifically designed for the CFP. They even posted their Illinois license number and it checked out!
The school is located in the second floor of a strip mall, and shares space with a jujitsu school and a dance studio. The class was a very diverse group of people. A few people had stories about their homes being broken into and how they wanted a firearm for protection. One woman told me how the guys who robbed her house were caught and were serving a prison sentence that would be ending in a few months. She was particularly motivated to get a gun legally. The class was a good basic intro to handguns and included safety, general maintenance, an overview of different brands (don’t by Hi-Point, they're for gangbangers!), and an overview of “how we think the new ordinance works, though don't hold us to it.” None of the info was particularly new for anyone in the class, though I guess it would be good for anyone new to handguns. The next day was the range qualification portion. The requirement to pass was to fire 50 rounds at a target that was about 10 feet away. I was done shooting before most had gone through their first magazine. The instructor really liked my P220 though, so I let him shoot a magazine. I got my certificate of completion and my training affidavit and I was off.
The next day was paperwork day. You are required to file the permit application in person at police headquarters between 8AM and 3PM, Monday through Friday. After filling out the application and paying the $100 fee, you are fingerprinted. Contrary to what I was told on the phone, I could not register my Sig that day, which made me worry. The officer assured me that “it would all work out,” and that if I didn’t get my permit before I moved, that I could file a change of address. I did learn that while the registration is $15 per firearm, the yearly renewal is free. I was fingerprinted twice (their laptop froze the first time) and was on my way.
Since receiving my permit, I have submitted the registration form for my P220. I included a letter with it stating that the pistol had not been in city limits prior to registration, as I don’t want to be filing what is essentially a tattle slip. The most obvious observation to make of this whole process is that the ordinance is designed to prevent as many people from getting the permits as possible. It seems particularly difficult difficult for people living on lower incomes. The process is fairly expensive, with the class, permit, and registration fees, and requires a significant time commitment. Since no ranges are allowed in the city, you need to trek out to the suburbs for your range qualification with the class. Since ranges are booked on the fly by the school, there isn't likely to be much access to public transport, especially if going out to a far suburb (This actually was a gripe some people had. I was going to offer to carpool, but everyone was able to figure out transport). Good luck if you can't get off work during the limited window the registration office is open. Also, all of the information is online so hopefully you have a computer and internet access. Calling the police wasn’t particularly helpful as most of the info I got over the phone was wrong or useless, though I will chalk that up to the fact that the process is still new. Anyway, I’m now a permit holding registered and fingerprinted Chicago gun owner, so hooray! The ordinance allowed me to bring my pistol into the city while my registration is processed, so I have it at home and got a weapon light to celebrate. Seeing as how my license number is very low, it doesn’t seem like they’ve given out very many yet. If anyone has any questions I hope I can help.