I received an email today from a gentleman named Mick, who mentioned a rather serious problem going on in Illinois with respect to FOID card issuance. Mick and several other people he knows have waited over 60 days to get their FOID cards, despite the fact that the law requires the FOID be issued or denied within 30 days. I also personally know of a person whose FOID application has been pending for more than the 30 day waiting period allowed by law.
Background on the FOID card requirement
In Illinois, a person who wishes to purchase, transfer, or possess a firearm needs to have a valid Firearms Owner Identification (FOID) card (more information on becoming a gun owner in IL can be seen here). Buying, selling, giving, loaning, or possessing a firearm without a FOID is a felony. In short, to enjoy the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms, Illinois residents are forced to wait over a month, which is bad for the reasons I mention here.
The FOID processing delay issue
The law, as codified in 430 ILCS 65/5, requires that the Illinois State Police (ISP) “shall either approve or deny all applications within 30 days from the date they are received, and every applicant found qualified pursuant to Section 8 of this Act by the Department shall be entitled to a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card upon the payment of a $10 fee.” Rather than following the law and issuing FOID cards within this 30 day time frame, the ISP has repeatedly delayed the FOID applications of many people over the years, and this remains an ongoing issue. An early excuse was a staffing shortage. Other times the applications were claimed to have been misplaced, even know the check had been cashed. Such excuses would not be satisfactory if a citizen were applying for a driver’s license, building permit, or vehicle registration. It is certainly not acceptable given the right to gun ownership that is enshrined in Federal constitution as well as the Illinois state constitution. Illinois state Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion) tried to fix this issue back in 2006, with a bill that would have allowed citizens whose right to a FOID was infringed to sue. Sadly, this bill passed 80-29 in the state house of representatives but did not succeed in the state senate.
What to do if your FOID application is delayed for more than the 30 days allowed by law
There are several things that a citizen should do if their FOID card is not issued (or denied) within 30 days:
1. Contact the ISP Firearms Services Bureau at 217-782-7980 and ask why your FOID has not been processed yet. Be sure to have records as to when you submitted the FOID application, and when your payment check was cashed. It is likely that you will not get any real help here, but it is important to call in order to get the “official” status from the ISP. Be sure to write down the names of the people you speak with, and the day/time you called.
2. Contact your state senator and state representative. These elected officials need to know that their constituents are having problems getting their FOID cards as the law requires. Often they can help you get a speedy resolution when the Illinois State Police fail to do so. Even if the ISP eventually send you your FOID, be sure to contact your state senator or representative so that they are aware of the problem – there is truth to the old saying that the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
3. Let me know about the problem by replying to this forum thread.
4. Contact your local news media outlets. Getting more publicity for this issue is important.
5. Tell your gun owning friends. They may have experienced similar issues, and could be willing to help lobby the legislature to fix this issue.
6. Sign this petition to help end FOID card delays.
One other point is to please remember to be polite and civil to the people you speak with about your delayed FOID application. Yelling at or using profanity toward the Illinois State Police or your elected officials will get you nowhere. Worse yet, rudeness on the part of one gun owner will be imputed upon the rest of us gun owners (even know it is not fair). Just be sure to calmly explain the issue, write down the names of the people with whom you have spoken and what they said, and be persistent.