The evidence that Illinois’ Firearm Owner ID card requirement is an unconstitutional infringement on the right to keep and bear arms has been around as long as the FOID itself, but new data is providing a new argument against the gun control restriction, even for those who may support the idea of requiring gun permits; if the state can’t even follow the law, why should gun owners be expected to?
According to Illinois law, the state police are mandated to process all FOID card applications within 30 days. But as the state’s Legislative Audit Commission has discovered, the Illinois State Police are rarely managing to meet that legal deadline.
Auditors say of their sample, 87% of FOID cards weren’t processed in time with up to a year delay and 60% of renewals weren’t processed in time with up to 214 days delay.
There wasn’t sufficient documentation provided to show fees deposited in accordance with the law, auditors noted. ISP collected $3.8 million for new applications and nearly $3.3 million for renewals.
Of the applications auditors sampled, 43% of CCL applications weren’t processed within the constraints of the law.
ISP issued a statement earlier this week saying they’ve got the backlog down from nearly 140,000 to around 8,000 after streamlining some processes and hiring additional staff. The agency said its processing applications in 38 days.
ISP Director Brendan Kelly said the agency continues to improve workflow and is headed in the right direction.”
“The Illinois State Police Firearms Services Bureau is committed to a firearms background check system focused on safety, not bureaucracy,” Kelly said in a statement. “We want to make it easy on the good guys and hard on the bad guys.”
There’s one easy way to do that, though it’s not up to the Illinois State Police to make the change. The state legislature, on the other hand, could repeal the Firearm Owner ID card requirement any time the Democratic majority is willing to do so. Unfortunately, the idea of that happening is about as realistic as Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot becoming the next head of the NRA.
Even worse, as Guns Save Life founder John Boch points out, it’s basically impossible to challenge the FOID delays in court.
“Up until recently it’s done a fairly poor job of keeping up with the workload over at the FOID section, but they’re doing better, that’s the good news,” Boch told The Center Square. “The bad news is we still got a FOID card.”
While auditors say some people waited up to a year for their card, Boch said some Illinsoians waited well over a year and there’s not much remedy to secure those rights.
“People can’t really go to court on it because the suit will be moot before the court ever has a hearing on it,” Boch said. “So people really have no place to go other than just to wait for the state to finally catch up when it comes to fulfilling their duties under law.”
Now, there are several challenges to the constitutionality of the FOID card itself that are pending before the state’s Supreme Court, and those aren’t subject to mootness considerations once a FOID card’s been processed. Unfortunately for would-be Illinois gun owners the state’s highest court is taking its sweet time adjudicating the issue. Earlier this year a state judge declared the FOID requirement unconstitutional, at least as it applies to guns in the home, but the state Supreme Court in Springfield has yet to schedule oral arguments for the state’s appeal. And in the meantime thousands of Illinois residents are unable to exercise their right to keep and bear arms in self-defense because the state’s gun control laws place the power of the bureaucracy over a right of the people.
Given the findings of the Legislative Audit Commission, no lawmaker can plausibly feign ignorance about the failures of the FOID system. But given the entrenched anti-gun attitudes among the Democratic majority in the state House and Senate, no Second Amendment supporter can reasonably hope for any remedy or relief from legislators themselves.