A recent Reboot Illinois report, released on July 20th has listed the counties in Illinois which have the highest concealed carry permit populations. Topping the list in licenses issued was, of course, Cook County. The state’s highest populated county issued 47,000 concealed carry permits over the last year, but ranked dead last in permits issued per 1,000 people. That title went to Pope County, deep in the Shawnee National Forest, in the Southern tip of the state.
In Pope County, there were only 181 licenses issued, but considering the population, that is 42.3 residents per 1,000 that now carry, along with other things, a concealed carry permit. Compared to Cook County’s number of 9 per 1,000 residents. Cook’s numbers are followed in ranking by Edwards County, with 41.7 concealed carry license holders per 1,000 residents, and Johnson County, with 38.4 per 1,000.
These numbers continue to rise following the state’s 2013 ruling allowing concealed carry statewide. Although the last state in the U.S. to pass a concealed carry law, the enthusiastic gun owners of Illinois have flocked to receive their permits. As of June 1, 2016, 181,489 Illinois residents were licensed to carry a concealed firearm, according to the Reboot Illinois report.
Pope County’s Sheriff Jerry Suits, when asked about the findings stated that he wasn’t surprised that there is a high concentration of concealed carry licenses in Pope County. “We haven’t had any troubles down here at all with it (the concealed carry law), and I don’t expect any troubles with it. It’s a good thing for Illinois, and I think it’s a good thing for Pope County,” he said.
Sheriff Suits only concern about those that have concealed carry permits is that some residents don’t immediately notify police that they’re carrying a weapon when they’re pulled over for a routine traffic stop, or the like. Something that those of us who have taken a safety course would know that the first thing you should do, when pulled over by the police, and carrying, is let the officer know that you have a gun.
“It’s a concern for me for safety, and not just me, but for some of my guys and gals, and you know, all the law enforcement community,” Suits said. Which is a very understandable sentiment given the recent string of tragic shootings of officers. So if you are carrying, always ALWAYS let a police officer know, should you encounter one of the boys in blue.