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Concealed carry classes underway in Illinois

Illinois gun owners began firearms training to prepare for legal concealed carry, which begins in January 2014.

Roxanne Folsom, a grandmother of seven, has owned a gun for the last 15 years and says it's her constitutional right to be able to do so.

"We do have the second amendment right and we should be able to do that, the state should have never kept us from doing that," Folsom said.

On October 26, 2013, she and other students began firearms training in Sterling, Illinois at Trinity Firearms Training.  They're training to legally carry a concealed weapon.

Folsom says part of what she has learned in the training is to only use a gun when you’ve exhausted all other options.

“You have to make sure it is a deadly threat, you fear for your own life, and that there’s no other way to avoid it,” said Folsom.

Illinois was the last state to pass the concealed carry law.

Some students in the Trinity Firearms class blame Chicago politicians for the Illinois ban on concealed carry.

However, in 2012 a federal appeals court in Illinois found the ban that prevented residents from carrying a weapon publicly unconstitutional.   The legislature passed concealed carry in Illinois in July 2013.  On August 30, 2013, the Illinois State Police began approval of certified firearms instructors and firearm training courses.

Howard Melchi, a retired police officer and a firearms instructor, says after completing the necessary training, a gun owner will be able apply for a concealed carry license.

“Most of the people will have to receive16 hours of training, gun safety, gun basics, handling skills; then there’s eight hours that cover the state law,” said Melchi.

Melchi says gun owners must also pass a live-fire exercise.  He says they must shoot a minimum of 30 rounds - ten rounds each from distances of five, seven and ten yards - with a 70% accuracy rate.

Officials say, if an individual is caught carrying a weapon without a license in Illinois, he or she could face jail time and a hefty fine.

However, students at the training class say they aren't worried about the consequences of not having a license.  They say they're doing everything according to state law.

"If you're trained properly, and you have the right mindset, it is a valuable way to protect yourself," says Folsom.