METAMORA, Ill. -- Even though Illinois is just one of two states that bans legal gun owners from carrying concealed weapons, gun experts say more residents are taking advantage of getting concealed carry permits from other states.
Those permits are not legal in Illinois, but they are in dozens of other states with reciprocal agreements with Utah and Florida, two popular states for granting those permits.
Bob Zimmerman, of Metamora, is one of 7,000 Illinois residents who has a valid concealed carry permit from Florida. He drove from Illinois to Florida last year, meaning his concealed carry permit was valid in Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama
"I was legal all the way," he said.
Overall statistics aren't readily available on how many total Illinois residents have out-of-state concealed carry permits, but experts say it is on the rise.
Illinois State Rifle Association Director Richard Pearson said the trend is "at least six or seven times more popular" than it was just two years ago.
Gun owners can apply online or by mail.
Mike Steck is a concealed-carry instructor from Utah. He travels to Peoria several times each year to teach classes on gun safety and legal issues for concealed-carry permits in Utah.
He even offers to take completed applications from Illinois back to Utah.
Illinois and Wisconsin are the only two states that bar gun owners from carrying concealed weapons.
The trend of more out-of-state concealed carry permits comes at a time when Illinois is grappling with new legislation to allow people to carry concealed weapons and publishing the names of residents who hold a firearms owner identification card.