KANKAKEE, Ill. - A new law that allows some Illinois residents to carry concealed weapons is prompting questions for hospitals, churches and even banks as they weigh whether to let people bring guns inside.
The issue is proving difficult in some communities.
"We have read about shootings in churches for years, but this is not a simple matter," said Rev. Jack McCormick, who is the pastor of the Manteno Church of the Nazarene. "Some folks will want to have responsible, armed members of the congregation at every service. Others will want to ban guns entirely."
He said he expects the church's board to discuss the matter and come up with a plan.
"It seems like we're always coming up with something new to divide the Body of Christ," he said. "What is this but one more thing that divides us."
Meanwhile, Bourbonnais-based Sorensen Wilder & Associates has spent months working with hospitals around the state to sort out how to handle visitors with weapons.
"If you are going to take a gun from a hospital visitor, a nurse can't just take it and lock it up," said Tim Sutton, who works with the security consulting firm. "That person is going to have a Firearm Owner Identification Card and special training."
Sutton said some hospital officials are also concerned about gun owners unloading their guns and leaving the weapons in cars, since accidental discharges can happy when the guns are loaded and unloaded.
The Illinois State Police are processing thousands of applications from people who want permits to carry the weapons, although it could be several months before the first permits are issued. Between Jan. 5 and Jan. 13, more than 23,000 people applied for the permits.
Illinois' law bans carrying concealed firearms in places such as schools, child-care facilities, courthouses, public transportation, college and professional sports stadiums and in establishments where alcohol sales make up more than 50 percent of a business's receipts.
Illinois lawmakers have projected that there would be 350,000 to 400,000 applications for concealed carry permits in the first year of the law.
The state is the last in the U.S. to allow the practice.