Illinois State Police Sued Over Carry License Delays

(AP Photo/AJ Mast, File)

If you’re an Illinois resident hoping to exercise your Second Amendment rights for the very first time, there’s no way for you to do so quickly unless you’re willing to break the law. In order to legally possess a firearm in the state, residents have to obtain a Firearms Owners ID card issued by the Illinois State Police, and in order to carry that firearm you must have a valid concealed carry license. The problem is that it’s taking the ISP months to process a permit application for both FOID cards and concealed carry licenses.

David Howley, in Arlington Heights, said he applied for his FOID card in July 2020.

“So as of today, that would be 191 days and 156 work days,” he said. “It’s gotten to the point of almost being ridiculous, the length of time.”

Wei Zheng said she just wants to be able to protect her family.

“After eight months I’m still waiting,” Zheng said. “I feel really helpless and upset.”

Zheng has every right to be upset. In fact, I’d argue that even people who haven’t applied for a FOID card or a concealed carry license should be ticked off at the turtle-like pace of the ISP. This is an abysmal failure of government, and its impacting people’s safety on a fundamental level.

There are already several lawsuits that have been filed in Illinois challenging the legality of the FOID card system, but on Friday the Second Amendment Foundation, the Illinois State Rifle Association, and four individual plaintiffs filed new litigation in federal court asking for relief from the glacial pace of approvals for concealed carry licenses.

“Illinois was the last state in the country to establish a licensed concealed carry program because we sued them in federal court and won,” SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb recalled. “The legislature passed a law requiring the ISP to either approve or deny an application within 90 days if the applicant supplies fingerprints, or 120 days if fingerprints are not submitted.

“But the ISP is habitually leaving applicants in legal limbo for months,” he said. “Compounding matters, there has been a surge of CCL applications over the past 12 months. Our plaintiffs have been waiting for months and have received nothing.”

According to the lawsuit, the individual plaintiffs “are concerned about being able to properly exercise their right to armed self-defense in public, especially given recent events and the current spate of car-jackings that have plagued Chicago and the collar counties.”

“The State Police cannot justify these delays,” Gottlieb observed. “As it stands, the ISP is indefinitely denying Illinois residents their fundamental Second Amendment right to carry a concealed sidearm in public for personal protection. We’re saying in this lawsuit that if the State of Illinois conditions the exercise of a fundamental right on the receipt of a license, then the ISP needs to comply with state law and process those applications in a timely manner as required by law. We’re taking them to court in an effort to make that happen.”

The case, known as Luce vs. Kellyasks for immediate issuance of concealed carry licenses for the plaintiffs, all of whom have been waiting longer than state law allows. Failing that, the lawsuit asks the court to require that the Illinois State Police become compliant with Illinois state law and finish processing applications within the time period defined in statute.

One of the plaintiffs in the case applied for his concealed carry license in February of 2020 and though it’s now been more than a year, he has yet to be approved or denied by the Illinois State Police. The other plaintiffs involved all applied for their carry licenses in September and October of last year, but have also heard nothing from the ISP in the months since.

This would be an appalling dereliction of duty on the part of the state of Illinois in the best of circumstances, but given the current spate of carjackings in Chicago (more than 350 since the start of the year), it’s even more unconscionable that the bureaucrats and politicians in Illinois are forcing people to either carry illegally because they want to protect themselves, or go unarmed while they wait for months on end for the state to uphold its obligation to process their applications. Something’s got to give, and it shouldn’t be the Second Amendment rights of Illinois residents.

 

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