Illinois Still Dealing With Massive Background Check Backlog

Illinois’ FOID card delays are nothing new, unfortunately, but the problem has grown to mammoth proportions over the past few months, and there are few signs that the Illinois State Police have a handle on the issue. Back in January, the ISP had a backlog of about 62,000 applications, which was bad enough, but now the state police say they’re trying to work through a whopping 135,573 applications. That includes new FOID card submissions, as well as renewals and things like changes of address.

For folks who are trying to renew their FOID card, the state police say that your existing card, even if expired, has in essence been extended for another 18 months. Those hoping to acquire a FOID card for the first time, however, are in for some lengthy delays.

The state of Illinois is required by statute to process FOID card applications within 30 days. At the moment, however, the ISP says it’s taking more than three times that long, with an average wait of 94 days. As you can imagine, this isn’t sitting well with anyone except gun control advocates.

Dan Dolan, owner of DLD VIP is located at 1405 E Lake Ave, Peoria Heights said maybe the State should just get rid of the FOID card overall.

“If we could just abolish that and continue using the FTIP and NICS program that are already provided for us federally by the FBI and ATF, there’d be a lot less delays that everybody is experiencing,” Dolan said. “You don’t hear any other state that they’re having 170 days for a FOID card or a background check because they’re using the federal programs that are already designed for this.”

Multiple lawsuits challenging the FOID card system are underway in Illinois, but so far the Illinois State Supreme Court has managed to avoid issuing a definitive ruling in any of the cases. Earlier this year the court sent one case back to the circuit court on a technicality, though dissenting judges on the state supreme court declared that a “pointless” exercise.

“Neither the parties nor the interests of justice will be served by this unexpected and pointless exercise,” Justice Lloyd Karmeier wrote in a dissenting opinion. He was joined in his dissent by Justice Mary Jane Theis. “Remand to the circuit court to enter a new order dismissing the case on statutory rather than constitutional grounds is a meaningless and wasteful act.”

For the moment, gun owners can’t really expect any relief in court or in the Democrat-controlled legislature, which hasn’t expressed much interest in dealing with the lengthy delays caused by high demand on the part of gun owners and understaffing on the part of the Illinois State Police. The ISP says its hiring new employees to work through the growing backlog, but there’s a minimum six-month training period before the new hires can actually being processing any applications.

Illinois’s lengthy delays are a perfect example of why it’s such a bad idea to require a permission slip from the government before you can exercise a constitutional right. Even as violent crime is soaring in cities like Chicago and criminals are acting with impunity, law-abiding residents who want a gun for self-defense are forced to twiddle their thumbs while the bureaucracy plods along at a snail’s pace.

We already know that violent criminals don’t care about FOID cards and concealed carry licenses, but the state’s inability to process applications in a timely manner is likely leading some otherwise law-abiding citizens to get or carry a gun while their applications are in limbo. In other words, the state is creating criminals with their lengthy delays. It’s an untenable position, but unfortunately unless lawmakers or the courts act, there’s no quick fix.