State officials announced this week that Chicago has seen a 16 percent increase in the number of people registering for state firearm owner's identification cards when compared to two years ago.
In the city, 122,000 people now hold registered FOID cards, compared to 105,000 at the start of 2010, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Illinois residents who want to purchase a gun are required to hold an active FOID card, which is issued by Illinois State Police.
The surge is largely thanks to the City Council moving, in the summer of 2010, to strike down a 28-year-old city ban on handguns, according to the Sun-Times. In June of 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a challenge to the ban, deeming it unconstitutional.
And while city law still technically requires Chicago gun owners to register their firearms with the Chicago Police Department, a National Rifle Association spokesman said he believed that many gun owners in the city are skipping out on doing so because the registration process is too cumbersome, according to CBS Chicago.
The data reflects a statewide increase in FOID card registrations. In Illinois, roughly 1.4 million people are card-carrying gun owners as of the end of 2011. Statewide, 78,000 people registered for the cards last year alone, as the Associated Press reported.
State Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg) said the recession was likely to thank for the surge. Phelps is pushing for Illinois to pass a concealed carry law and is expected to call it for a vote this spring.
"I think you're seeing a lot of people that are more or less breaking into places, and I think people just want to be able to protect themselves and their families," Phelps told WJBC. "I'm going to talk to the state police to find out where the biggest increases were."
Only Illinois and the District of Columbia bar the concealed carrying for firearms and Gov. Pat Quinn has repeatedly emphasized that he will veto any concealed carry bill that reaches his desk, according to the AP.
A recent meeting in the near western Chicago suburb of Oak Park attracted hundreds of attendees, including gun rights advocates from throughout the state, who feared the village could approve laws they say unfairly restrict gun owners' rights and could be duplicated elsewhere in the state.