This forum has been very helpful to me, so today I wanted to give something back, and tell you you can put your mind at ease after having your CCL status go to “Under Board Review.”
I completed my CCL Training in Skokie IL December 2015 and applied for my AZ and IL conceal-carry permit on December 31, 2015. Within about 6 weeks, I had my AZ permit, but then on March 1, 2016, the unthinkable happened - my Illinois application had been flagged for Board Review.
First the obvious question - why did *I* go to Board Review? In reading about what constitutes a potential trigger, the text fails to mention that something as minor as a “contact card” can put you in the system. And, it is my understanding that the Cook County Sheriff’s office does no vetting of their own. They load their objections, no matter how petty, into a dump truck and leave them at the steps of the ISP for them to deal with.
In my opinion, this does two things: It takes a reasonable vetting process by the ISP and turns it into an onerous burden for the ISP and the Board, and it ensnares people who would never have been singled out in a different county or state. Together, it adds quite a bit of time to the processing of the application. So settle in for a wait. I don’t mean to sound callous, but I wish I could have read those same words back in March so I could set my own expectations.
Instead, I was logging in to the ISPFSB website everyday after work with breathless anticipation of what their verdict would be, all the while wondering why I was there in the first place. It is worth noting that I was stopped twice in the past 10 years when walking near my house - once by detectives, and once by a uniformed officer, but in both instances I DO know why they would question me. Both times, in separate years, I was walking from a corner gas station in brutally cold, windy, Chicago-style, winter weather late at night (10:00 wish), and they rightly wondered what a sane man would be doing out walking at that hour in those conditions. In both instances, I had just “quit” tobacco and picked up a new tin of Grizzly long cut, and after brief and courteous exchange, I was on my way.
Of course I had no way of knowing whether either of these two events figured in to board review, but what I did know is that I had never done anything in my life that would disqualify me. Since I had never been involved in a domestic disturbance, or had a DUI, or was committed to a psych hospital, or been arrested for gang activity, deep down inside I knew it would come thru, but the issue of “why" gnawed at me daily.
I did not call the ISP. I did not write the review board. I left everyone alone and just let the process work - especially as I learned how difficult Cook County makes it for the Board members by sending thousands of objections when the number of objections should be closer to the tens (I think fewer than 1% of Board Reviewed cases are ultimately rejected, but someone out there can correct me on this).
The one thing I would do differently is I would stay the heck off of ispfsb.com except for a once monthly check, because it really served no purpose at all to be checking every day, when it might be months until they even pull my application for review.
As the letters came, and as I realized it would be awhile, I decided my time would be best served shopping for a firearm (yes, I did not even own a firearm at this point), and also to train as much as possible, so when the day finally came, I would be ready. For me, it is JUST me. I don’t have any acquaintances or coworkers that share my conviction at all, so I had no reference point on anything. Since I was a bit lost, I used this time to prepare, and it served me well, and it will serve you well too. It also helps keep your mind off of the “Hey fella, we didn’t get to you yet” letters from the ISP.
In March 2016, I started searching in earnest for the perfect handgun. I quickly learned that there is no single holy grail, but that everything is trade-off. Since I am 6’ tall and 155 pounds (fully clothed and soaking wet), my vertebrae would print thru a snowmobile suit, so I needed something small but effective. After months of reading reviews and comments, the Glock 26 kept rising to the top in my head, and by September, I was the proud owner of a Glock 26 Gen 4.
At the same time, I wanted more training. What are my real responsibilities? Some may take offense to this, but the ONLY reason I chose to conceal-carry is to protect my family, and my family only. I am not an officer, special agent, savior of the day for the cheering crowds, or anything of that sort. My job, as I saw it then, and see it now, is to get me and my family out of harms way, and to engage ONLY for my, or my family’s need for immediate protection. I felt guilty about excluding all others until I started classroom training in earnest.
I decided on a 7 dvd box set that was engaging and very informative. Couldn’t wait to get home from work and see what was next in the training. If anyone is interested in the company or product name, let me know, but I am not mentioning it here because this post is not an ad, it is just to share my experience in case it helps someone else. As the months went by and the ISP “not yet, buddy” letters accumulated, so did my DVD collection from this trainer. I now have everything put out by them, and will buy the next release of whatever they offer. This training is what gave me my sense of place in the world of conceal-carry, and also provided reams of training on everything from mastering handgun accuracy to what to expect in a real-life encounter. I was very happy to have completed this before my first day in the public conceal-carry.
With more time to kill, I did as much hand wringing over holsters as I did with the firearm purchase, and decided to try IWB 4:30 carry. I ask my wife to take a picture of my back when I was all geared up, and it looked like my butt had a butt. So I put that away and will pull it out if I can ever manage to gain 15 pounds or so. I then got a Kydex IWB to carry in the appendix position, which is perfect for me.
By the first week of October 2016, I had my 6th “we’ll get to you eventually” letter from the ISP, my Glock 26, and my holster, so I started carrying around the house and yard ONLY. The first two weeks I carried with and empty firearm and no magazine. The enormity of the responsibility was settling in. It is like the difference between walking a 2 x 6 when suspended 4 inches over the ground, and walking the same 2 x 6 when suspended 40 stories up. You tend to thing real hard about every step when there is a lot to lose, so training and practice took on an even deeper purpose for me.
After another week, and after cleaning all the lint out of my brand new, unfired firearm, I decided to carry empty, but with the magazine. I wanted to learn to feel comfortable with the firearm, and also to ensure that no-one in the house could see that I was carrying (my wife was on board from the day I enrolled in CCL classes) but for anyone dropping by, I wanted to be sure I could completely conceal.
By November, it was time to carry with a full magazine, but nothing in the chamber, and it was also time to get the “you’re not going to believe this, but we STILL haven’t reviewed you” letter from the ISP.
December, another ISP letter, and carrying loaded and chambered. By now, by just spending a few minutes a day, I had accumulated 1500+ dry-fires in practice based on my DVD training, and had finally attained the comfort level with my firearm and carry style knowing that my muscle-memory won’t let me down. I still continue to train, because the act of training itself is in my muscle-memory. Just a few minutes - 30 minutes a day, is all it takes.
In the first week of January, 2017, I did not receive the ISP letter. By now I was conditioned to receiving it, so I asked my wife if she had seen it come in (haha). I logged into ISPFSB.com and my status had changed from “Under Board Review” to “Under Review.” In Chrome, I right clicked on the “Under Review” line and selected “Inspect” and in the window that opened I saw “Approved.”
The next day, I checked again, and it said “Active” !!!!!! (The exclamation marks are mine :-)) All the blood left my face, and I logged back out and back in, just to confirm. Finally, relief. Finally, the process had run its course. By January 13, I had my card in hand, and my Glock 26, loaded and chambered, has been with me everywhere I go (I do not go to places with the “victims only” sign on the front door prohibiting CC. Never have, never will).
I discovered the internet in 1994 or 1995, but this is the first time I have ever posted to a forum. The reason I am doing this now is that this is a big decision for all of us. It is a responsibility that we choose to shoulder that few understand. The “Under Board Review” letter felt like a cold slap in the face, and I had no idea what to do, except to wait it out, and to make sure the time I spent waiting was also spent wisely. Hope the turn around time for everyone reading this is shorter, but mine took 1 year and 13 days, but for me, it turns out that was just perfect, because when it arrived, I *knew* I was ready. Soon, you will be posting that you also received yours.