Concealed carry delays still plaguing Illinois gun owners

Seth Perlman

With violent crime in Chicago at levels not seen in decades, plenty of residents are choosing to exercise their Second Amendment rights and carry a firearm of their own for their personal safety. But even after making that decision, many of these gun owners are being forced to wait for months, and in some cases well over a year, before the Illinois State Police issues them their carry license.

These delays are nothing new, unfortunately, but the issue was supposed to be addressed last year when Democrats in Illinois approved a bill that they claimed was going to fix the problem. And while the Illinois State Police have made genuine progress in reducing the backlog of Firearms Owner ID card applications (required in order to simply own a gun in the state), one Illinois lawmaker is chastising the agency for its lack of progress on carry applications.

During a Senate committee last week, state Sen. Terri Bryant, R-Murphysborow, told Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly that problems persist despite a clearing of FOID card backlogs.

“You’ve increased the ability to get those done, but to date I still have some folks that are waiting 18 months on CCL,” Bryant said.

Kelly said they’re working on it.

“That is the last category that we have to address,” Kelly said. “We are steadily heading in the right direction and my hope is by the time we get to the summer, we’ll be well within the statutory timeframe there.”

Imagine what the response would be if a legal gun owner in Illinois who was caught carrying without a license told a police officer, “yeah, I should be in compliance with the law in a few months.” Think that would stop them from being arrested?

The Illinois State Police is breaking state law by taking more than the time allowed to process carry applications, and real harm is being done to those applicants every day they are forced to wait for their government-issued permission slip that allows them to bear arms without facing a felony charge.

Unarmed citizens are being targeted for robberies, rapes, carjackings, and even murder, but if they dare carry a firearm without their concealed carry license, they could end up in court or even prison as a result. Sen. Bryant had one suggestion to the head of the state police to help speed up the process.

Bryant suggested something she said shouldn’t be construed as snarky and that’s taking an “all hands on deck” approach to clearing the backlog as Gov. J.B. Pritzker took to clearing cannabis expungements.

“I would suggest that you ask the governor’s office to take the manpower that they used to expunge those marijuana cases and give them to you for a period of time in order to get rid of this CCL and FOID backlog,” Bryant said.

Sounds like a good idea to me.

Ideally, of course, Bryant would be able to work with her colleagues to pass a Constitutional Carry bill and get rid of the state’s mandated licenses completely, but this is Illinois we’re talking about; a state that only recognized the right to bear arms after a federal court declared its ban on carrying a violation of the Second Amendment. Absent a court order, we’re not likely to see Constitutional Carry adopted in Illinois anytime soon, but the state should not be allowed to get away with depriving residents of their rights by blaming the bureaucracy and promising to do better at some point in the future.