Illinois Dems Want To Make State's Broken FOID System Even Worse

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The Illinois State Police are currently facing multiple lawsuits in both state and federal court over their inability or unwillingness to process Firearm Owner ID card and concealed carry applications in the time allotted to them under state law, and some Republican lawmakers have called for a repeal of the FOID requirement as a result.

Democrats, on the other hand, are now offering up proposals of their own, but rather than addressing the problems in the current system, they want to make those problems even worse.

Illinois lawmakers are proposing fingerprints and higher costs for Illinois’ Firearm Owners Identification Card in an effort to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.

State Sen. Ram Villivalam’s amended Senate Bill 568 would double the cost of receiving a FOID card to $20 and cut the expiration date in half to five years. In addition, it would also require the cardholder to submit them to the Illinois State Police.

The higher costs for obtaining a card and transferring guns would go to mental health services and another fund that would pay for the increased operations within ISP to enforce the program.

Has Sen. Villivalam taken a look at any headlines from Chicago recently? Criminals aren’t obtaining FOID cards, which are required to legally own any firearm in the state. They’re ignoring that law just as they’re ignoring the law requiring a concealed carry license in order to carry a firearm. For that matter, they’re also ignoring the laws against carjackings, armed robberies, and murder.

Yet rather than do anything to address the criminal misuse of firearms, the Illinois Democrat wants to place more burdens on those who actually want to comply with state law and possess their firearms legally.

Villivalam said at a recent news conference that the increasing rate of gun violence requires action.

“It ensures that we’re giving the Illinois State Police the ability to take the guns of folks who shouldn’t have them,” he said. “It makes sure that we’re getting funding, life-saving funding, mental health funding, to the communities that have been most impacted by gun violence.”

No, he wants to tax legal gun owners instead of focusing on violent criminals. As for the funding issue, Villivalam and his colleagues in the legislature have actually diverted $30-million in funds over the past few years that was supposed to go to the State Police Firearm Services Fund. That fund is supposed to pay for the processing of FOID cardsand concealed carry license applications. After raiding those funds, Villivalam now says that gun owners should be the ones to make up the difference.

When it comes to the crisis in mental health services in Illinois, Villivalam and his fellow Democrats are also to blame. Former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel closed nearly half of the city’s mental health clinics during his time in office, and though current mayor Lori Lightfoot vowed to fix the “broken mental health safety net,” she’s yet to reopen any of them. The state’s crisis in mental health services can’t and shouldn’t be the responsibility of gun owners. This is an issue that impacts everyone in the state, and if it’s going to take more money to address the issue, then the cash shouldn’t come from gun owners alone.

But wait, because the bill gets worse.

Another major change in the legislation would require that any change in ownership of a firearm be conducted through a licensed gun dealer. That includes inheriting firearms from a deceased family member or if two FOID cardholders consent to a loan between them.

The potential glut of transfer requests has Todd Vandermyde, executive director of Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois, skeptical that the law could be enforced.

“I think that there will be a lot of dealers that just aren’t going to do it,” he said. “The real burden is going to fall on the individual to be able to find a place.”

And because there are not federal firearms licensees within Chicago to legally transfer a gun, Vandermyde says that would amount to a civil rights violation.

“If somebody is a Chicago resident, where do they go transfer a firearm? If a bunch of those shops in Cook County say they’re not going to do it for $10,” he said, “how far are they going to have to go?”

It’s clear that this legislation isn’t designed to reduce violence. It’s designed to reduce legal gun ownership. And unfortunately it’s getting a lot of support from Villivalam’s fellow Democrats. The bill already has two dozen co-sponsors, all of them Democrats, and it’s very likely to start making its way through the legislature in the coming weeks.

In a nice touch of irony, Sen. Villivalam has entitled SB 568 the “Fix the FOID Act,” even though it would do nothing to address the problems plaguing the system, and would in fact only make things worse. Frankly, even non-gun owners should be ticked off by this bill, and they should join their gun-owning friends and family in calling, emailing, and writing lawmakers urging them to get serious about violent crime and mental health, instead of trying to crack down on legal gun ownership in the name of public safety.