With Support from the NRA, Guns Save Life Challenges Illinois FOID Act’s Constitutionality

illinois foid card lawsuit

TTAG image by John Boch

Imagine being denied your Second Amendment rights because state government bureaucrats claim you have a criminal conviction in your past. Yet at the same time, local government officials remain unable to produce any supporting documentation to back up their claims. They claim any such records likely were “destroyed.”

That’s the position in which a Guns Save Life member finds himself.

And today, Guns Save Life filed suit in Illinois Circuit Court to put an end to the state’s FOID Act and its unconstitutional infringements on the rights of not only Illinois residents, but those of out of state visitors as well.

Here’s an excerpt from the complaint:

…The disarmament of two Guns Save Life members illustrates just how thoroughly the FOID Act infringes on that right.  Harold Meyer, a 74-year-old Guns Save Life member and resident of Cook County, has never been charged with or convicted of any crime, subject to any protective order, or diagnosed with or treated for any mental illness.  He used to enjoy target shooting once a week and possessed firearms for that purpose, and he kept those firearms for self-defense in the home.  In compliance with Illinois law, he also held a FOID card.  Recently, when that card was set to expire, he dutifully applied to renew it.  But in a January 29, 2019 letter, the State police denied his application, and revoked his FOID card, on the ground that Mr. Meyer had been convicted of battery in Cook County in 1983.  Lee Letter from Ill. State Police, Firearm Servs. Bureau, to Hardold Meyer (Jan. 29, 2019) (“Exhibit C”).  Apparently the police did not notice this conviction when Mr. Meyer had first applied for a FOID card.  The reason is simple:  Mr. Meyer has no such conviction.  Nevertheless, the letter instructed him to surrender his FOID card, to dispossess himself of his firearms, and to complete a Firearm Disposition Record disclosing the make, model and serial numbers of his firearms and what he had done with them – all within 48 hours.  See id.  Mr. Meyer complied, transferring his firearms to his wife (who has a FOID card) and travelling [sic] to the police station to document the transfer and to surrender his FOID card.  He also requested a record of his supposed conviction from the Circuit Court of Cook Cook County.  But in a February 27, 2019 letter, the Clerk of the Court indicated that the record could not be found and likely had been destroyed.  See Letter from Dorothy Brown, Clerk of the Circuit Court of Coook Cty., to Harold Meyer (Feb. 27, 2019) (“Exhibit D”).  Thus, the FOID Act has allowed a police error to deprive Mr. Meyer entirely of a constitutional right.

The suit seeks for four remedies for this infringement. It seeks a declaratory judgement ruling the FOID Act violates the Second and Fourteenth Amendments. It asks for a preliminary and permanent injunction stopping the FOID Act’s enforcement. Additionally, the suit seeks costs of filing the suit and any other relief the court deems just and appropriate.

Here’s a press release from Guns Save Life . . .

Guns Save Life Challenges Illinois’s FOID Act with NRA Support

With the support of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, Guns Save Life filed a lawsuit today in Illinois state court challenging the state’s Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID) Act.

The FOID Act requires individuals to pass an extended background check, provide a photo, and pay a fee before being granted government permission to possess a firearm in their own home. Illinois gun owners must pay a fee and renew their FOID card every 10 years. If the card is stolen, gun owners are forced to jump through additional hoops and are burdened with more fees to exercise their constitutional right to self-protection.

The case of one Guns Save Life member shows how drastically the FOID Act infringes on that right. In compliance with the Act, the member recently sought to renew his FOID card. But the police denied his application and revoked his card, claiming to have suddenly found a battery conviction in his record. He has no such conviction, and the courts have no record of one. Nevertheless, because he no longer had a FOID card, he was forced to disarm.

“Something is very wrong with a law that causes a law-abiding Illinois resident to dispossess himself of his firearms because of a government recordkeeping error,” said John Boch, executive director of Guns Save Life. “This episode should reveal to everyone the FOID Act’s basic unconstitutionality.”

But efforts are underway in the Illinois legislature to raise the costs of FOID cards. With the help of the NRA, Guns Save Life seeks to end once and for all this infringement on the constitutional rights of the law-abiding gun owners of Illinois.

And this one from the NRA-ILA:

Fairfax, Va. – The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) today announced its support for a lawsuit challenging Illinois’s Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOID) Act. The lawsuit was brought by Guns Save Life, an organization dedicated to defending the Second Amendment rights of Illinois residents.

“The Illinois FOID Act infringes on law-abiding citizens’ fundamental right to self-protection,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA-ILA.

The FOID Act requires individuals to pass an extended background check, provide a photo, and pay a fee before being granted government permission to possess a firearm in their own home. Illinois gun owners must pay a fee and renew their FOID cards every 10 years. If the cards are stolen, the gun owner is forced to jump through additional hoops and burdened with more fees to exercise their constitutional right to self-protection.

The case of one Guns Save Life member, mentioned in organization’s complaint, shows how drastically the FOID Act infringes on that right. In compliance with the Act, the member recently sought to renew his FOID card. But the police denied his application and revoked his card, claiming to have suddenly found a battery conviction in his record. He has no such conviction, and the courts have no record of one. Nevertheless, because he no longer had a FOID card, he was forced to disarm.

“You shouldn’t need government permission to exercise a constitutional right, “ continued Cox. “The men and women of the National Rifle Association are pleased to join Guns Save Life in this fight to protect the rights of a distinguished combat veteran and all of the law-abiding gun owners in the great state of Illinois.”


Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen’s group. More than five million members strong, NRA continues to uphold the Second Amendment and advocates enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime. The Association remains the nation’s leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the armed services. Be sure to follow the NRA on Facebook at NRA on Facebook and Twitter @NRA.

Obviously, this suit has the potential to send massive shockwaves through not only the state of Illinois, but nationally – especially for those states with similar unconstitutional licensing requirements for gun owners.

It would also potentially spell bad news for Democrats Eric NukeEm Swallwell and Cory Spartacus Booker who have dreams of taking gun owner licensing nation-wide.

In talking with our own John Boch today, he expressed gratitude to the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action for their support. He also tipped his hat to Todd Vandermyde, the NRA-ILA’s former contract lobbyist in the Land of Lincoln, without whose help, this would not have been possible.

Watch this space.

comments

  1. avatar Ransom says:

    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. You are GUILTY sir! I say so…and you must prove otherwise!

    1. avatar Ed Schrade says:

      Let’s put all politicians under the same rules. Let’s have them undergo the background checks etc. and if they do not pass with a clean record then they get removed from office. They would also be under ” red flag laws, if accused by an unknown person then they will be removed from office.

    2. avatar LibertyToad says:

      Welcome to 1984….

      1. avatar Helms Deep says:

        Thanks to fake ‘ conservative ‘ Gov. Crispy Creme , NEW JERSEY State Police has used secret ” No Fly ‘ Federal lists to ban gun buyers since August 2013.

        No due process , no way to challenge or correct errors.
        ( New Jersey State Police are weaponized , notoriously corrupt and used for political retribution. )

  2. avatar Steve H says:

    Breaking News………………

    Thanks to Kathleen Willis, Democrat from Northlake, IL (Western Chicago suburb), a bill was just introduced to :

    1) Increase the fee for a FOID card from 10 to 50 dollars

    2) Shorten the validity of a FOID card from 10 to 5 years.

    That, of course, will stop all the gang banging thugs on Chicago’s south and west sides from shooting one another, and from car jacking working people in safer neighborhoods.

    Rocket science I tell you!

    1. avatar SoBe says:

      Must be that “new math” I heard about.

      1. avatar Fezzik says:

        Also Tom Dart, Cook County’s gun hating sheriff has “Brute Squads” going door to door confiscating guns.

        https://abc7chicago.com/dedicated-law-enforcement-teams-target-illinois-revoked-gun-license-owners/5302757/

    2. avatar OBOB says:

      want to solve the gang problem?

      one cop/range master I knew says this…train all the gang bangers and hoods how to shoot and shoot VERY WELL ‘just’ before they leave prison or jail
      1 they will have a better hit rate and harm less civiys
      2 a more deadly hit ratio on gang member targets will solve the issue faster!

      self cleaning oven!

  3. avatar Johnny Bullets says:

    “You look guilty.”

    “Next case.”

    1. avatar Ogre says:

      Reminds me of when I was in the military. At one unit our commanding officer held non-judicial punishment (Article 15, UCMJ) for minor offenses every week. The word went around that when doing so, he’d say “First Sergeant, bring that next guilty SOB in here and we’ll listen to what he has to say for himself.” Guilty until proven innocent. Also known as the “rug dance.”

  4. avatar bob cosenza says:

    i hope states like awful new york state,which i live in,and other dispickable unconstitutional democrat run states.are forced to follow the constitution and stop making law abiding american citizens,continue to jump thru there unconstitutional hoops.and let legal american citizens obtain firearms if they wish to.instead of putting up democrat and other liberal roadblocks.and to police commissioner o,neil and others like chicago and california.who should try reading the constitution{2nd amendment}and the dick act of 1902.legal american citizens have the right to protect themselves and there families,SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.hope all 50 states have shall issue not may issue.who is anyone to deny a legal american citizen from protecting himself and his family.cmon trump don,t allow these do nothing democrats or liberals,to jam there unamerican unconstitutional garbage down american citizens throats. go trump

    1. avatar Huntmaster says:

      Democrat Troll

    2. avatar frank speak says:

      It’s a ridiculous restriction that seems to be unique to illinois…the NRA needs a big win…this could be it…

    3. avatar Mr no says:

      As long as scumo is in office there is no chance at getting his stupid safe act out…as long as NYC is part of nys anyway him and the blooming onion too corrupt and too much money. No chance!!!

  5. avatar jwm says:

    .gov records are never destroyed. About 1980 or so I was told by the VA my records had been destroyed in a fire in St. Louis. Years later I was contacted by the VA and told my records had been on a lap top that was stolen recently.

    But everytime I contact the VA they know who I am and all about me. Destroyed records. Pull the other one, it has bells. Once the .gov gets it it is permanent.

  6. How about The People’s Republic Of Massachusetts…A police-state with similar “unconstitutional and unfair bureaucratic licensing schemes”!? How about NY, NJ, MD., etc…As others, where citizens CAN’T readily exercise THEIR constitutional rights!?

  7. avatar Ragnarredbeard says:

    And where was the NRA when the FOID was instituted? I was stationed in IL from 86-92 and I never heard a word from them.

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      1986 was eighteen years after it was instituted.

      1. avatar Ragnarredbeard says:

        OK, where was the NRA when it was being put thru the Illinois house? If its unconstitutional now, it was then too.

        1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

          teaching me how to shoot.

  8. avatar Ralph says:

    If the information about Harold Meyer is correct, then the act will likely be deemed unconstitutional as applied to him, but not unconstitutional on its face. But even that would be a start.

  9. avatar former water walker says:

    The local “newz” gleefully reported on the proposed increase in FOID fees. And the fingerprint requirements. I hate ILLinois…

    1. avatar Binder says:

      Well if other states would put convictions in the national database we would not have the issue.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        The problem is having a national data base. But then you consider bump stocks to be machine guns.

        You support 2a, but…..

      2. avatar Binder says:

        WTF!
        Are you stating that there should be no tracking convicted criminals?

        If you attached a drill to a gatcrank you would have a machine gun, so how is using recoil energy different then electrical? How about a trigger that uses recoil energy to force a reset once the bolt locks? Would that be a machine gun? Would be easier to make than a binary trigger (and likely safer too).

        When you get the NFA lifted, then we can say that you support the 2nd, but I’m not holding my breath. Hell, I would be impressed with NICS

        1. avatar jwm says:

          Shall not be infringed. But thanks for proving my point.

        2. avatar Binder says:

          Shall not be infringed. Keep saying. May work eventually too. And I might even agree with you, but then I also know that at some point just too many people won’t and then we are all screwed.

  10. avatar Nanashi says:

    What judges would determine this if it if Guam’s FOID was challenged instead?

    1. avatar jwm says:

      I believe the 9th. Which Trump just appointed another justice to.

  11. avatar Grumpster says:

    The whole Illinois FOID system is really messed up. I got mine renewed last year and am good for 9 1/2 more years. They never sent my wife a renewal notice but luckily I had reminders setup in my calendar. I did her renewal online 7 weeks before her expiration data and a month has gone by and status shows still “under review”. I asked at my LGS and they said they are way behind and found out only 4 people are employed to do FOID applications for the whole state. If ones FOID expires before it is renewed then you own guns illegally in Illinois and they can be confiscated.

    1. avatar Binder says:

      FUCK, read the law before you post.

      Gun owners can submit their renewal for the card before it expires and still be a legal gun owner if it expires before the Illinois State Police processes it.

      (430 ILCS 65/5) (from Ch. 38, par. 83-5) (b)

      1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

        similarly for ccw. of course it won’t be in the database, so they’ll yank your edc anyhow.

        1. avatar Binder says:

          Screen shots are your friend. FYI the Illinois State Police (contrary to some opinions here) are not out to screw you over.

          But a lot of people put misinformation is put out there. Hell, I still have to encourage people sign up for their FOIDs, a lot of gun owners think it is hard or something and don’t do it.

  12. avatar GS650G says:

    If some one is in this situation and moves to a free state are they denied by ncis in their new state as well?
    I’m not suggesting he move (although I would) but if that is not the case it could be said he has options

  13. avatar Marcus says:

    Good burn another stupid law to the ground!

  14. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Imagine being denied your Second Amendment rights because state government bureaucrats claim you have a criminal conviction in your past. Yet at the same time, local government officials remain unable to produce any supporting documentation to back up their claims.

    Hmm. Where have I heard that before? Now I remember! It happened a few months ago to a Florida resident who tried to renew his/her concealed carry license, only to have the licensing authority in Florida deny the license for a matter of which the court in question cannot produce any documentation.

    This is the entire problem with prior restraint: government can utterly and totally squash an unalienable right through incompetence, malice, and/or lack of resources.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      Prior restraint = judicial suppression of publication or broadcast of material because the material might be harmful.

      What does “prior restraint” have to do with guns?

  15. avatar Jim Bullock says:

    Well, this double-secret-probation, star chamber kudzu needs chopping back from time to time.

  16. avatar Bierce Ambrose says:

    If they’re fine that you’re banned cause of a record they can’t produce, maybe it’s not about the record … or what you are supposed to have done.

  17. avatar Bierce Ambrose says:

    I have in my hand … reports … of records … of you doing some disqualifying thing … so you can’t have your guns.

    Also, are you now, or have you ever been (or are there somewhere reports of records) a member…

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