Journalist Scott Reed over at the Jacksonville Journal-Courier has apparently realized that delays in processing Illinois’ FOID cards hurt law-abiding gun owners. Illinois is one of only four states that require a license to exercise the Second-Amendment protected right to own a firearm.
A Firearm Owners Identification, or FOID card, must be presented when purchasing guns and ammunition. And it is a requirement for possessing a firearm. The average wait time for new FOID card applicants is 122 days according to the Illinois State Police.
If you are an otherwise legal gun owner and are arrested for possessing a firearm without a valid FOID card, you could be facing an offense punishable by up to a year in jail. Before issuing FOID cards, the State Police conduct a full criminal background checks on applicants.
There are a number of reasons why the state has fallen behind in processing FOID applications and renewals. They are inadequately staffed, the volume of applications has gone up two or three fold and COVID restrictions have made it more difficult for office workers to process the paperwork.
Some interesting parallels were drawn by people Reed interviewed on the topic:
Liberals hate [the Heller] decision almost as much as conservatives hate Roe vs. Wade.
“How would a woman feel if she were told she had to wait five or six months to exercise her constitutional right to an abortion?” said Todd Vandermyde, a lobbyist for licensed gun dealers in Illinois. “That’s what’s happening with our constitutional right to bear arms. A woman may be the victim of abuse and wants to buy a gun to protect herself but she may have to wait months and months to get a FOID card before she can even buy a gun.”
There’s another problem with the state requiring a license to own a firearm, and it isn’t just people trying to get a new FOID card finding themselves stuck. FOID cards only last ten years before they expire and, thanks to the processing delays and COVID-19-related issues, there’s a new wrinkle:
Illinois law has required FOID cards for more than 50 years. The cards typically expire after 10 years. But [Illinois State Police spokeswoman Beth] Hundsdorfer said cards that expire during the current COVID crisis have had their expiration dates extended by 18 months through an executive order from Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
But this is far from a satisfactory solution.
Individual police officers don’t always know about executive orders, Vandermyde said.
“If someone hands an officer a FOID card that appears to have expired, that person is likely to get arrested,” he said.
That’s all too accurate. If there’s one thing you should know and understand as a gun owner it’s that members of law enforcement tend not to be up-to-date on gun-related laws and regulations.
There are some LEOs who are well-versed in gun laws, but unfortunately, they’re in the minority. You need to know the laws yourself for any area in which you have firearms. Even then, that may not necessarily save you, as Vandermyde points out.
Deer hunters are being negatively affected, too. There are people who want to go deer hunting this season but can’t get a FOID issued by the ISP, meaning they can’t legally hit the woods.
As usual, gun laws affect only law-abiding citizens, not criminals. Or did you really believe criminals sit around waiting for their State Police-issued FOID cards to arrive in the mail?