The wait to obtain a Firearms Owner ID card in the state of Illinois, which is required to legally own a gun in the state, has grown longer even as the state has repeatedly promised for more than a year to speed up processing applications. It’s now taking 121 days on average for the state police to process an application, even though state law requires that new FOID applications be approved or denied within 30 days. While the delays aren’t new, they’ve become exponentially worse this year as hundreds of thousands of residents have applied for permission to exercise their Second Amendment rights for the very first time.
There are already a dozen lawsuits that have been filed in both state and federal court challenging the inability or unwillingness of the Illinois State Police to complete the application process on time, but now Republican lawmakers in the state are speaking out and demanding change.
State Rep. Avery Bourne said it’s ridiculous Illinois citizens need to challenge the law to secure their rights and lawmakers need to act.
“Let us do our jobs. Let us fix it. Or Governor Pritzker, you fix it,” said Bourne, R-Morrisonville. “But let us do it so that citizens don’t have to sue their own government to practice their constitutional right.”
State Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer said Gov. J.B. Pritzker can’t blame COVID-19 or the federal government for the delays.
“There are rules set within the FOID system of how long they have to process these and they’re certainly not following,” said Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville.
As it turns out, Pritker isn’t blaming COVID-19 or the federal government for the delays. He’s blaming the last Republican governor of the state instead.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday blamed fund sweeps from years ago, including under former Gov. Bruce Rauner, and said state officials are working on it.
“Making sure we have outcomes, goals and accountability in that system,” Pritzker said. “We certainly want to bring down that backlog.”
But the backlog hasn’t decreased. Since October, the backlog has increased by about 3,000 to nearly 145,000. It was around 62,000 in January, before the pandemic.
Just a reminder: J.B. Pritzker took office in 2018. He’s had two full years to address any “fund sweeps” that happened years ago. He simply hasn’t made it a priority to ensure that the state police are complying with their duty to complete the application process within the 30 day window, and as a result the problem has become much worse under his watch.
As bad as the FOID delays are, those applying for a concealed carry license are having to wait even longer, with the ISP taking an average of 145 days before approving or denying an applicant.
While GOP lawmakers are correct in calling for relief, it’s not likely that their Democrat counterparts in Springfield are going to agree to suspend or end the FOID program over the failures to process applications in a timely fashion. I think the best chance for relief for those who want to exercise their right to keep and bear arms in Illinois is going to come through the courts, but that too will take some time. In the short term, hundreds of thousands of residents across the state are being denied their Second Amendment rights; not because they’re criminals or scofflaws but because the state of Illinois can’t or won’t abide by its own laws.