While all gun control laws are essentially worthless, it’s hard to think of anything that’s more pointless than the Illinois Firearm Owner ID (FOID) card. Why is the Illinois “gun safety” measure so utterly useless? Because it’s redundant.
Anywhere in the United States, purchasing a gun at a firearm dealer already requires the buyer to go through a background check at the point of sale. While that’s hardly a perfect system (false denials are far too common), it sometimes blocks sales to those who have a disqualifier in the system, such as a felony conviction or serious psychiatric problems.
While private sales aren’t subject to a background check in most states, criminals couldn’t care less either way. “Universal background check” laws that mandate checks for sales between private parties do literally nothing to stop them. They still sell guns to other criminals and think nothing about it.
Illinois requires people to apply for a FOID card before they’re even allowed to purchase a gun. But, unlike the NICS system, the FOID process is anything but instant. It’s often the source of lengthy delays. When things are particularly busy, people have seen wait times stretch to as long as a year. And, the card doesn’t include concealed carry rights, so people wanting to carry a gun for self-defense outside the home have to go through a second background check process to get a carry permit.
Nobody gains anything from the FOID card requirement. The state doesn’t stop anyone from getting a gun who wouldn’t have been stopped by the federal background check system. Gun owners have to wait while the state bureaucracy grinds on and don’t even get concealed carry for their trouble.
The only thing the FOID mandate does is delay and bother people trying to exercise a constitutional right. That, of course, is the unstated purpose of gun owner registration.
So, when we see that Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth wants to implement her state’s useless system nationally, it’s pretty clear what’s going on here. It wouldn’t change or improve anything for her state’s citizens. Instead, Duckworth knows that nationalizing Illinois’ FOID follies would be a great way to inconvenience, delay, and obstruct gun ownership across the country.
Even her own statement to media seems to confirm this . . .
“I’d like to see a national FOID card. You know, in Illinois, we have a FOID card. It doesn’t stop people from being able to purchase weapons. But I think it’s important that everyone should have a background check,” she said. “You shouldn’t just be able to walk into a gun show and buy a gun without a background check. I think we need to significantly close that loophole.”
She knows damn well that that the FOID card system “doesn’t stop people from being able to purchase weapons.” And she clearly knows that criminals can and do still buy guns…even in Illinois.
The only point would of a national FOID card would be to harass people for exercising an enumerated civil right, both before they’re able to buy a gun and then after. Senator Duckworth wants police to be able to demand to see ‘ze papers.‘ Harassing gun owners at enough at every step will have a chilling effect on gun ownership. That’s what she’d counting on. And every person who decides not to buy a gun as a result will be considered a win for Senator Duckworth and those like her.
The good news? Not only would the requirement for national gun owner registration never survive a court challenge, but in the long run you’re likely to see Illinois’ FOID mandate tossed on the ash heap of hoplophobic history.
There’s no historical precedent for the licensing gun owners. And in the post-Bruen landscape, that means the FOID card that Senator Duckworth thinks so highly of is an endangered species.