Illinois politicians claim that law-abiding gun owners need extensive licensing to keep their fellow residents safe from gun crime. The fees from these licensing regimes, they tell us, are dedicated to funding the Illinois State Police’s enforcement of these schemes.
If you guessed that the Illinois State Police’s Firearms Services Bureau (FSB) is as broke as the rest of the state, you failed that pop quiz.
In fact, the ISP’s FSB has enjoyed a tsunami of cash since Illinois implemented its pricey concealed carry licensing program. Now if you guessed that in the famously corrupt state of Illinois the revenue has consistently been misappropriated for other uses, then your cynicism is well-founded.
The Land of Lincoln’s carry license application fee stands at $153 and change for residents. Of that, per the Firearms Concealed Carry Act:
$120 shall be apportioned to the State Police Firearm Services Fund, $20 shall be apportioned to the Mental Health Reporting Fund, and $10 shall be apportioned to the State Crime Laboratory Fund
Multiply that times hundreds of thousands of applications, and that quickly adds up to real money.
So, how did Illinois State Police spend that money? In short, they didn’t. The Moms At Arms blog has done some great investigative reporting on this.
Of just the Firearm Service Fund, meant to fund the Firearm Services Bureau, less than 13% of the expenditure authority monies were spent in 2014. In fact, for the three years 2014 to 2016 combined, the FSB only spent about one quarter ($15,875,735) of the $61,153,400 authorized.
2018 doesn’t look a lot better, with the Illinois State Police spending less than half of collected fees to administer the gun owner licensing schemes.
What’s more, the Firearms Services Bureau remains inadequately staffed to handle its duties. For instance, the FSB has about fifteen call-takers to handle the customer service hotline. They receive many thousands of calls each day.
How do they handle all those callers? They don’t.
Once their queue reaches four of five people waiting on hold, they issue subsequent callers a message that they are receiving a high call volume. And then their computer ends the call.
Try it. 217 782-7980. (Hint: Press ‘0’ to reach someone to handle concealed carry or FOID issues.)
What’s more, The Illinois Times exposed a raft of problems within the Firearm Services Bureau in a recent story.
The ickiness started in 2013, when Christina Hibbert, an Illinois State Police employee assigned to the Firearms Service Bureau that issues firearm owners identification cards and concealed-carry permits, began an affair with Master Sergeant Anthony McClure.
They were not discreet. Someone once spotted McClure standing between Hibbert’s spread legs as she sat in an office chair while he rubbed his crotch. Early on, Hibbert reportedly told a coworker that she and the master sergeant were having sex inside headquarters.
While the Illinois Times focused on the raunchy sex-in-the-workplace angle, their story exposed all manner of problems within the Firearms Service Bureau.
The coworker would later testify that the Firearms Service Bureau was no fun: Morale was low, stress was high, there weren’t enough employees, it was taking more than four months to issue FOID cards that were supposed to go out in 30 days and McClure and Hibbert took lunches as long as two hours. Overtime was mandatory, and some overworked employees didn’t appreciate trysts that were so obvious that when someone once asked another where McClure and Hibbert were, another employee guessed they were probably having sex, according to investigative files.
Yet plenty of unspent money exists, as shown by the tens of millions of dollars the state has hoovered up in gun licensing fees.
Meanwhile, last year Rep. Kathleen Willis proposes hiking the FOID application fees by 400% in order to fund Illinois State Police enforcement activities. As if the ISP were broke.
From Michael Bloomberg’s The Trace:
Illinois Democrats who want to strengthen the state’s gun owner licensing program inched closer to victory this week after the House advanced legislation to close gaps exposed by February’s mass shooting in Aurora. But the bill’s proponents must still overcome objections from members of their party worried about the effects of ratcheting up license fees.
The overhaul’s primary sponsor, Representative Kathleen Willis, a Democrat from Northlake, left a committee hearing on May 21 intent on making revisions after her colleagues raised concerns about increasing the price of a Firearm Owners Identification card, the license needed to legally possess guns in Illinois, from $10 to $50. The revenues would fund a new State Police task force charged with investigating revoked license holders who failed to surrender their firearms, offset State Police administrative costs, and pay for state-run mental health programs.
So Rep. Kathleen Willis, who already has a reputation for playing fast and loose with the truth when it comes to guns, says the ISP needs more money to carry out its duties. This when they aren’t spending the money they already have.
Department personnel stated the receipts initially could not be deposited due to not knowing the breakdown of how much to deposit in each of the three funds involved.
Because they couldn’t read the law?
What’s next from Kathleen Willis? Is she going to tell us with a straight face that strict gun control laws have kept Chicago residents safe for generations?