Illinois' Firearm Owner ID System Is A Broken, Bureaucratic Nightmare

Every legal gun owner in the state of Illinois is supposed to possess a Firearms Owner ID (or FOID) card. The card, issued by the Illinois State Police, is good for ten years, but folks who are trying to renew their card or obtain a new one are reporting big problems with the process.

llinois state police officials on Monday confirmed to the ABC7 I-Team that they were trying to repair “longstanding (sic) issues surrounding the Call Center” that helps applicants obtain new or renewed Firearm Owners Identification cards.

A FOID card is necessary in Illinois to legally purchase a firearm or ammunition.

Some gun owners have said that they can’t access state websites to fully complete applications for a FOID renewal, or reach human beings to report problems.

With the Illinois deer hunting season set to open a week from Friday, time is running short for some gun owners in need of a current and valid FOID card.

There are nearly 2.3 million FOID card holders in Illinois and the I-Team has received gun-owner reports of problems in processing from website issues to state phones going dead.

It’s nice to see the media finally paying attention to the problems, which have plagued the FOID system for months now. In the meantime, gun owners are in danger of becoming illegal gun owners thanks to the bureaucratic backlog.

Glenn Rogers is a retired police officer. He said after 10 years his FOID card was due to expire so he tried to renew it online.

“I started in October. I figured it would be a simple flow, but it hasn’t been,” Rogers said. “It’s been difficult. There’s no renewal button. It’s not even earthly possible for you to renew.”

He said he can’t get through to anyone to even ask for help.

The Illinois State Police say they’re aware of the issues, and they’re promising an upgrade of the Call Center system in 2020, which a) many Illinois gun owners are skeptical about and b) doesn’t do a darn thing to help those gun owners who are trying to renew their FOID card now.

In the meantime, there is a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the FOID card itself that’s before the Illinois State Supreme Court, and while oral arguments were held back in September, there’s no deadline for the court to issue its decision. Nor is there a guarantee that the court will strike down the state’s FOID card requirements, even if the State cannot meet its duty under the law to process the applications in a timely manner. Right now, Illinois gun owners are stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to exercising their rights.

It’s not just the FOID cards either. The Illinois State Police is also running a huge backlog on processing concealed carry licenses as well.

Dan Eldridge of Maxon Shooter’s Supplies and Indoor Range said a survey of his customers revealed the state is taking about 120 days to process applications submitted with fingerprints and 140 days for applications submitted without fingerprints.

“You do your part and you hope the State Police can do theirs,” said Eldridge. “I don’t fault the State Police, necessarily. They are under resourced in getting this done.”

The state of Illinois may not be giving the State Police the resources needed to uphold their end of the gun laws, but gun owners are still the ones paying the price. For that reason alone, until the state can process the FOID cards in the time allotted to them by law, the FOID card requirements should be struck down, or at least suspended by the state Supreme Court. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen, and in the meantime legal gun owners are being forced to play a dangerous waiting game.