Illinois Democrat Pushing to Expand FOID Card Requirements

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

Illinois' Firearm Owners ID card has already been declared unconstitutional on two separate occasions, though the state Supreme Court invalidated those decisions on technicalities. Lawmakers in Springfield should be working to repeal the statute, which requires every would-be gun owner in the state to pass a background check and obtain a FOID card before they can possess a firearm, but instead one Democrat is hoping to turn the current system into a pure permit-to-purchase measure; requiring applicants to not only undergo a background check, but go through eight hours of firearms training before they can exercise their Second Amendment rights. 

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William Kirk, president of Washington Gun Law, said the measure woud require residents who want to purchase a firearm to go to their local law enforcement department and go through a background check with fingerprinting.

“Once that permission slip is given to them, they would have 180 days in which they could purchase a firearm. They have to turn that card into the [federal firearms licensee]. The FFL has to take a receipt of it. It’s like a punch-card, you get to buy one per permission slip,” said Kirk. “Illinois also has the goofy [Firearm Owners Identification] card as well, so anyone who has a FOID card has to undergo a background check, then of course anyone who has ever purchased a gun knows that any FFL is going to run you through a federally-mandated background check and then you have to go through a background check when you get your permission slip from local police.”

Kirk says he's concerned that the training mandate could end up being used as a tool to suppress the number of lawful gun owners in the state, pointing to California's recent changes to its training requirements, which have left instructors scrambling to get approval from CalDOJ to conduct classes and students across the state unable to get the training that's mandated for all concealed carry applicants. 

“State law enforcement gets to certify and say who the instructors are. It’s a very limited number of instructors and they don’t allow private companies to be in on it because the government wants a monopoly on it,” said Kirk. “That is another method that they can use to disarm lawful citizens.”

HB3239 would require Illinois residents who want to buy a firearm to undergo eight hours of mandatory training approved by the director of the Illinois State Police.

Kirk said this bill makes it to where Illinois citizens have to seek the government’s permission before exercising an unalienable right. He said HB3239 and the FOID card would likely be struck down by the Supreme Court of the United States.

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Oddly, HB 3239 is utterly silent on what, exactly, should be included in the eight hours of training. That leads me to believe that the bill's sponsor is less concerned about what is taught in the class and more interested in simply erecting another barrier between Illinois residents and their right to keep and bear arms. 

Meanwhile, what happens if you're arrested for possessing a gun without a valid FOID card? In Chicago, the answer is "not much". Even if you're charged with additional crimes like vehicular trespassing, you're likely to be swiftly released, perhaps with an ankle monitor to supposedly watch over you. If prosecutors decide to move forward with your case instead of dropping the charges (a big "if" in Cook County), first offenders are most likely going to end up on probation instead of going to prison. 

Instead of mandating hours of training for everyone interested in purchasing a gun, why don't Democrats do something that would actually improve access to training for those who want it? There are no gun ranges open to the public in the city of Chicago thanks to the city's draconian zoning laws, so why don't lawmakers appropriate the funds necessary to build a state-owned and operated range inside the city limits where residents can take classes and get first-hand experience with their firearms? 

I know, I know. Doing that would increase the number of lawful gun owners in the state, and that's the last thing Democrats want to do. Instead, they'll take another bite out of our Second Amendment rights and proclaim we're all safer thanks to their actions, while repeat violent offenders continue to enjoy a target-rich environment with little fear of prosecution or punishment for their crimes. 

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