Illinois law mandates that the Illinois State Police administer the Prairie State’s gun control licensing schemes, including the much-hated Firearms Owners ID cards as well as concealed carry licensing. Even before China flu hit last year, the ISP struggled to keep up with applications and renewals. After the COVID lockdowns began, and especially after last summer’s widespread “mostly peaceful” riots and looting, our fearless state police fell impossibly behind.
The Land of Lincoln’s FOID Act allows ISP 30 days to process new Firearm Owner ID card applications. With a few limited exceptions, these cards are required for anyone to handle, purchase or possess firearms or ammunition – legally. In other words, if one wants to exercise their Second Amendment rights in Illinois, one must first pay $11 and wait for the government to send them a permission slip/card.
Meanwhile, the legislature has swept tens of millions of dollars from the budget of the ISP division that handles firearms licensing schemes – the Firearms Services Bureau – leaving them very short staffed. Unable to comply with the rule of law, the agency sought and received an emergency exemption from the state’s rule-making body, the legislature’s Joint Commission for Administrative Rulemaking (JCAR) committee.
The new rule allows the ISP up to 18 months after the governor declares an end to COVID emergency to process FOID and CCW applications and renewals. That clock hasn’t even started ticking yet.
To their credit, the ISP’s FSB has prioritized new FOID applications. On the other hand, those with existing FOID cards now face even longer waits for renewals. The law says the ISP is supposed to process FOID renewals in 60 business days, or nearly three calendar months.
Today, it’s not uncommon for people to wait six to twelve months for their FOID renewals. And sometimes much longer. Tens of thousands of other Prairie State gun owners have experienced waits of over a year for their FOID renewals.
Many downstate State Representatives and Senators report that the single biggest constituent service they provide is nudging the ISP to check on the progress of FOID applications and renewals for gun owners.
I sent off my FOID card renewal application in the first week of March 2020. As of this writing — 16-plus months later — I still don’t have a valid FOID card, at least on its face.
Under the emergency rules, my expiration is “COVID-19” in state computers so it is considered valid by the state. Even though the card I formerly carried indicates an expiration date of June 2020.
If I didn’t have a valid carry license (which can be used like a FOID card to purchase firearms and ammunition in Illinois), I could not purchase ammo or firearms at retailers if I couldn’t prove to their satisfaction that I’d applied for the renewal under the COVID emergency rules.
Without a carry license, some retailers including many of the big box stores will not honor a FOID card that’s not showing ‘valid’ on its face regardless of whether or not a person presents proof that they’ve applied for a renewal.
Some people have asked me, “Don’t you know people?” I do. But I’m intentionally not asking for special attention because I want to see what it’s like for people who don’t have contacts within the ISP and the ISP’s Firearms Services Bureau.
Sadly, what I’ve seen isn’t pretty. I’ve talked with people who submitted applications for renewals even before COVID hit who continue to wait for a new issuance.
But waiting 16-plus months and counting for a FOID renewal could be worse. Ask Michelle.
You thought your driver’s license picture was terrible?
So, you think your driver’s license picture doesn’t flatter you? Imagine what Michelle thought when she saw hers . . .
After waiting since August 2020 for her FOID renewal, Michelle Ann (last name redacted) finally received it in the mail towards the end of May. Michelle looked at her new FOID card and about cried.
The image on her FOID card — the gun license she waited over nine months to receive — was distinctly unflattering. It wasn’t even her. The signature isn’t hers either.
Unlike most I’ve heard from, Michelle’s case had a happy ending. The red-faced state employees at ISP-FSB processed her complaint and sent out a new FOID card within a couple of weeks. And they didn’t even demand that she return the faulty card first. Give them credit for that.
Most victims of license issuance errors aren’t so fortunate.
One would think the employees at the state’s firearm licensing office would double- and triple-check their work before sending these documents to the law-abiding folks they serve. Yes, we’re all human and make mistakes, but it isn’t like the Firearm Services Bureau are rushing these licenses out within a few days of receiving them.
Sadly, Illinois concealed carry applicants also face problems. Yes, they have the right pictures (in most cases), but see if you can spot the problem with this card…
Janie’s original carry license expired last June. She applied for her renewal months early last year. Finally at the end of March, 2021 the ISP Firearm Services Bureau sent her a new license.
The license they issued on March 29, 2021 came with an expiration date of June 5, 2020. It should have read 3/29/2026.
I contacted my favorite lieutenant at the Illinois State Police back in April about this. Lt. John Thompson serves as the legislative liaison to the General Assembly and its members.
I offered to forget about the incident if they could make this right while I dealt with some personal issues for a few weeks following my mom’s death. That didn’t happen. Instead, they threw up new roadblocks for Janie to negotiate.
Unlike Michelle’s FOID case above, Janie still hasn’t received her valid carry license…three months later.
Just a one-off, you say?
Poor James, aka “Jaques” from Joliet doesn’t think so. The ISP issued his carry license renewal card on January 13, 2021 and it shows and expiration date more than a year earlier, November 24, 2019. As of June 2021 he carries his “new” license, still attached to the letter from ISP, as he waits for them to issue a corrected card.
These are but a few cases that have been reported to me in my role with Guns Save Life. Most folks don’t want to draw attention to themselves and risk the wrath of a faceless bureaucrat working behind stone walls and armed guards at the fortress-like Illinois State Police headquarters in Springfield.
In fairness, I’ve met plenty of outstanding people who work for and/or retired from the Illinois State Police. Heck, I even helped one move his family to Philo, Illinois, the center of the universe (as it says right there on their water tower). I haven’t met an obnoxious sworn officer yet.
As for the people working at the Firearms Services Bureau — both sworn state troopers and unsworn desk jockeys — they have, without exception, shown themselves to be as courteous, competent, helpful, and decent people in my interactions with them.
We shouldn’t blame decent people trying to make this flawed FOID scheme work.
Instead, Illinois should repeal the failed FOID Act which only hobbles the law-abiding.
Do you think any of the violent criminals and gang members (but I repeat myself) in Chicago who are responsible for 22 killed and 90 maimed over the Independence Day holiday weekend had FOID cards? Outside of the one CCW holder who shot down a would-be mass killer on the evening of Independence Day in the cesspool of Lori Lightfoot’s Murder City, USA, if you believe they had FOID cards, you’re either a fool or a partisan hack.
As for the Land of Lincoln’s notorious carry license scheme that disenfranchises the poor with its needless costs, in a fair world that didn’t discriminate against the less fortunate and people of color, that law would face the scrap heap as well.
With the onerous 16-hour training requirement (and its costs), along with the outrageous application fees ($153 and change every five years), poor folks simply can’t afford to exercise a fundamental constitutional right. Many of the working poor are similarly excluded. Imagine the hue and cry from those same politicos who support gun control if we enacted a 16-hour training requirement and licensing scheme to vote.
Nearly half the nation now has constitutional carry. In other words, anyone who can legally possess firearms can carry one for self-defense without any special license.
Rest assured, if “permitless” concealed carry caused even a speck of blood in the streets, our legacy media and their steadfast opposition to civilian firearm rights would be all over it. Constitutional carry isn’t a problem and there are no problems in the states that practice it.
At the same time, as an Illinois resident, I can report with authority that our state does one thing exceptionally well: giving residents reasons to move out of Abe Lincoln’s home state.
Lastly, the Illinois State Police haven’t responded to a request for comment on the processing problems we submitted Tuesday afternoon. We’re not holding our breath.