The Illinois law specifies that permits be awarded on a "shall issue" basis – meaning anyone who qualifies must be given a license – as opposed to laws in some states that feature the more discretionary "may issue" standard.
"They want this to be 'may issue' and that's not what the law is," Rowe says. "Tom Dart is the only sheriff I know who is speaking out in opposition [to the law]."
Smith, however, says the law's added level of bureaucracy distinguishes it from other "shall issue" states.
The Illinois law was approved by the state legislature July 9. Legislators voted decisively to overturn Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn's veto. In a December 2012 ruling the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit decreed the state must pass legislation allowing concealed carry.
In lieu of access to the LEADS database, Smith says the Cook County Sheriff's Office is engaging in a less-thorough and more time-consuming work-around.
Staff typically assigned to jails, policing and intelligence-gathering are being enlisted to help search the records they do have access to – including protective order listings, jail records and a database used by Chicago police.
Around 400 applications for gun training instructors were submitted in December, Smith says, and her department found some applicants faced charges they found concerning.