ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (AP) — Illinois residents can begin applying in January for licenses to carry concealed weapons, but so far only 54 instructors — most from northern Illinois — have been approved to train them.

State Police spokeswoman Monique Bond said the agency has received as many as 1,000 applications from would-be instructors, and is “confident that there will be enough instructors to provide training for prospective applicants.”

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In July, Illinois became the last state in the nation to approve a law allowing the public possession of a concealed firearm. Anyone who wants to carry a weapon first must complete 16 hours of training from a state-approved instructor, who must use the state’s training curriculum.

Bond said potential instructors must meet several criteria and undergo background checks, the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald reported Tuesday.

Bond said the instructors could start providing training as soon as the state’s approved curriculum goes online, which could happen next week. The police are expected to begin providing concealed carry applications on Jan. 5, with permits available in the spring.

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Gregory Coyle, a National Rifle Association instructor and former competitive shooter from Arlington Heights, is among those who have been approved as instructors. He said people have already reached out to him online, but he can’t teach without the curriculum. He thinks many more instructors are needed.

Coyle said instruction will include safety and gun-handling lessons and information on the new law, which allows for carrying concealed, loaded handguns but also keeps a number of specific locations like bars and playgrounds off limits.

“I’ve got people calling me about training, and I can’t tell them anything yet,” Coyle said.

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