More than a dozen firearms instructors have been stripped of their concealed carry endorsements after investigators found they were issuing certificates to hundreds of improperly trained students.
A firearms instructor from Bolingbrook is the latest to lose approval as a concealed carry instructor in Illinois. State police said 327 applicants trained by that instructor will be notified their applications are being denied, and they will have to complete required training from a qualified instructor before their applications are considered.
In mid-March, two St. Clair County instructors lost their approval, affecting another 98 concealed carry applicants in Illinois.
The most recent incident brings the total number of instructors who have lost state approval to 13, affecting 425 applicants whose training has been deemed invalid.
In all cases, state police said they got complaints that the firearms instructors were improperly training students and/or awarding completion certificates to students who had not actually completed the minimum 16 hours of training required by Illinois law.
“The public expects firearms instructors to provide a thorough understanding and solid foundation of the curriculum and practical training that meets all qualifications of the law,” said ISP Director Hiram Grau. “When these instructors fall short, safety is compromised and the integrity of the training process raises concerns."
Applicants,whose certificates are found to be invalid may have trouble recovering money paid for training, and could be forced to repeat the time and money invested in firearms training.
In answer to a frequently-asked online question about whether an applicant can get credit for previous training that is invalid, the state says that training is treated as if it didn't happen.
"You will need to complete 16 hours of training from an approved instructor whose approval to instruct has not been revoked," the answer said.
There is not much relief for students whose certificates are deemed invalid as well.
"Questions regarding restitution should be directed to your instructor or the State’s Attorney’s Office for the county in which you received your training," the answer said.
Those training courses can cost $250 or more.
Bottom line, applicants should review the rules, ask questions and demand credentials from any firearms instructor they are considering.
State officials said about 5,000 concealed carry permits were issued in the first round mailed in late February 2014.
There are more than 2,700 certified firearms instructors listed on the state database. You can find a list of qualified concealed carry instructors - click here.