New FOID Law In Illinois Won't Fix The Growing Delays For Would-Be Gun Owners

AP Photo/Shafkat Anowar

For a couple of years now the Illinois State Police has been unable to keep up with the demand for Firearm Owner ID cards and concealed carry licenses, which has led to months-long delays for applicants. That backlog has grown exponentially worse since the start of the Great Gun Run of 2020-21, and there are applicants who are now waiting for more than a year for their FOID card, even though the state is required to process applications in 45 days.

While there are multiple lawsuits challenging those delays and the FOID requirement itself, Democrats in Illinois insisted that a new FOID “reform” measure would be able to clear up those long waits, and this week Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the bill into law. While Brendan Kelly, the head of the Illinois State Police is telling gun owners that the delays will soon be a thing of the past, in truth it will be months before gun owners can expect any hope of improvement.

ISP said expired FOID card and concealed carry licenses will remain valid until December 31, 2021 under the state’s disaster declaration, as long as you submit your renewal application before it expires.

But the I-Team has heard from several people who said some gun shops are refusing to honor their expired credentials. It’s yet another reason why people want the state to step things up and issue their renewals in a timely manner.

Kelly said the new law should do just that.

“Our goal has been and continues to be to make sure it is easier for the good guys and hard for the bad guys and we’re making progress towards that mission,” Kelly said.

House Bill 562 takes effect January 1, 2022.

Keep in mind that the ISP has been saying for well over a year that it was hiring additional staff to deal with the backlog, even as the backlog increases. Now, despite the happy talk from Democrats in Springfield about the new FOID law, we learn that it’s going to be January before ISP starts to see any of the increased funds for staffing (funds, by the way, that will come from gun owners themselves in the form of higher fees to exercise a constitutionally protected right).

The FOID bill was fairly divisive when it was making its way through the legislature, with some 2A groups in Illinois declining to oppose the measure despite the addition of universal background check requirements for all firearm transfers in the state. Eleven Republican lawmakers joined with Democrats in passing the legislation, though some, like State Sen. Darren Bailey, believe it’s time to simply get rid of the FOID requirement instead.

“This is an example of Democrats passing and signing bills which offer no real merit to the everyday lives of the people of Illinois. When HB 562 was called for a vote in the House earlier this Summer, the bill’s sponsor didn’t even understand the process of getting a FOID card. Instead of actually trying to understand the issue, the Majority party, along with a few weak-kneed republicans, passed this bill outside of our normal legislative session to place unnecessary burdens on our law-abiding gun owners.

“This bill does nothing to curb gun violence and crime across our state, instead it prompts innocent people to undergo a redundant process, costing state resources and card holders more money. This bill is also a gateway for mandatory fingerprinting and a registry on our guns. It hurts small businesses and private dealers by placing new taxes and liability during the private transfer process.

“The Pritzker Administration’s focus from day one has been circled around more restrictions on our God-given constitutional rights. It’s time we Void the FOID and fight like hell for our constitutional rights.”

I agree, but that’s not going to happen through the legislature. Instead, it’s going to be up to the courts to void the FOID, and we’ve already seen some preliminary decisions in that direction. That’s a positive step, to be sure, but for now the FOID system remains in place and it will be at least four more months before there’s any hope of real progress in reducing the backlog of applications. In the meantime, would-be gun owners in Illinois are still going to be deprived of their Second Amendment rights; unable to get the permit required to simply possess a firearm in the home because of the failures of government. And despite the fact that it’s the government that’s failing to do its job, it’s the law-abiding citizens of Illinois who are suffering the consequences.

So no, I’m not celebrating the signing of the FOID “reform” measure. I’ll reserve my applause for the day that this unconstitutional law is struck down in its entirety.

Sep 22, 2021 6:30 PM ET