Illinois Facing A Dozen Lawsuits Over FOID Card Delays

You may have heard the cries of “voter suppression!” in response to long lines for early voting around the country, or seen the tweets complaining about the lines from folks like former Senator Claire McCaskill.

If waiting in line for a few hours in order to vote counts as “voter suppression,” then what do you call having to wait for several months simply to apply for your government permission slip to keep a gun in your home or to carry it in public?

That’s the situation in Illinois at the moment, as the Illinois State Police continue to struggle with a growing backlog of Firearms Owner ID card and concealed carry applications from would-be gun owners in the state.

Illinois State Police say the average time for FOID card processing is 116.35 days. FOID cards are supposed to be processed within 30 days.

For Concealed Carry Licenses with fingerprints to go with the applications, ISP said the average time is 129.9 days. Without fingerprints with the application, it’s 154.19 days.

The state is facing 12 active lawsuits over the delays, the Illinois State Rifle Association said. The group filed one in federal court on Tuesday.

“These delays have gone on long enough. We had hoped to avoid litigation, but at this moment, we have no choice,” the association said in a statement. “This is not an issue of funding as money has been allocated to ISP for issuing FOID cards. When it was unused, it was returned to the state’s general fund.”

As the Center Square reports, the ISP was already unable to keep up with the demand for FOID cards even before the onslaught of applications began in March and have continued unabated ever since. The backlog of FOID applications stood at roughly 60,000 back in January, but as of Tuesday, the number had more than doubled to 142,000.

State Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur, said the backlog has been compounded by the pandemic and it’s denying people their rights.

“[ISP] can’t meet their constitutional, and I say the United State’s constitution, they can’t meet their requirements,” Caulkins said.

The Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights says in part “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

ISRA Executive Director Richard Pearson said it’s been months for some and “a right delayed is a right denied.”

“This is a right, whether people like it or not,” he said. “It’s in the Bill of Rights and it is a fundamental right and you’re denying these people their fundamental rights because you’re delaying them.”

Again, if folks like Claire McCaskill believes that waiting a few hours to cast a ballot during early voting amounts to voter suppression, then what do they think about having to wait five or six months (or even longer in places like Philly) to exercise your Second Amendment rights?

Actually, I’m pretty sure that McCaskill is just fine with those delays, given her support for gun control. Hopefully the many judges at both the state and federal level that will be weighing in on the failures of the Illinois State Police to process FOID and CCW applications treat the issue as seriously as it deserves. Richard Pearson is correct when he says that a right delayed is a right denied, and there are tens of thousands of Illinois residents who’ve been denied their ability to protect themselves or their families even as shootings and homicides have dramatically increased across the state.