Illinois requires every gun owner in the state to possess a Firearms Owner ID card before they can legally possess a gun, but the state police have been mired in delays that have left thousands of gun owners in limbo as their existing cards expire or they await approval before purchasing a gun. Compounding the problem is the fact that Democrats in the state legislature have been apparently raiding the FOID card fund, taking out millions of dollars that could have been spent to ensure the system was actually operating in a functional manner.
Now the Illinois State Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation have filed suit, alleging that the delays are resulting in a denial of the Second Amendment rights of residents.
The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division federal court, says ISP “has swept or transferred funds totaling more than $29,500,000.00 from the State Police Firearms Services Fund, the State Police Operations Assistance Fund, and the State Police Services Fund away from these funds and into other accounts.” According to the complaint, “The money was to be used for three purposes: administration of the Firearm Owners Identification Card (“FOID Card Act”), background checks for firearm-related services, and concealed carry licensing pursuant to the Firearms Concealed Carry Act (“FCCA”). Instead, the more than $29,500,000.00 has been subject to interfund transfers which are ostensibly to be repaid but which have not been, or swept into other accounts without an obligation to reimburse the funds at all.”
“The sweeping of funds has denied qualified Illinois citizens their rights and the ability to defend themselves and their families,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “Because of this practice, ISP processing of FOID and concealed carry applications has slowed to a crawl, allowing paperwork to languish. That’s not just poor performance, it’s pathetic.”
The lawsuit comes as the Illinois State Supreme Court is considering whether the state’s FOID card system is unconstitutional to begin with. If the state’s high court were to strike down the FOID card requirement, the new federal lawsuit filed by ISRA and SAF would be moot, but the hinderance of the right to keep and bear arms would also disappear. The state supreme court actually heard two cases dealing with the issue back in the fall, and could issue an opinion at any time.
As for the new case, you can read the entire filing here. I wish the attorneys the best of luck in this case, and hope that Illinois residents will soon be able to more fully exercise their constitutional rights without being bound up in red tape, regulations, and outright government interference.