When people talk about requiring a license for gun purchases, they don’t really understand why we object so vehemently. After all, we have to have licenses to drive cars or get married, so what’s the problem?
Of course, we on this side of the debate know better. Guns are a civil liberty and one shouldn’t have to ask permission to exercise that liberty. Further, introducing something like a licensing requirement just to purchase a firearm not only does little to prevent crime, but it also offers an anti-gun government the chance for shenanigans.
That’s what ran through my mind when I read a story about how Illinois has diverted millions that were supposed to go to facilitate the state’s required Firearm Owners Identification Card.
Illinois lawmakers took funds meant to help the Illinois State Police (ISP) facilitate gun registrations, concealed-carry licensing and other services and used the money for other purposes without paying it back, according to a gun-rights group.
An investigation conducted in conjunction with the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) and state Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, with the aid of state researchers found the General Assembly has siphoned almost $30 million over the past five state budgets.
A memo from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability sent to Wheeler showed more than $13 million swept from the State Police Firearm Services Fund in fiscal years 2015 through 2019. With another fund having been raided of $15 million, lawmakers took $28.5 million in fees paid for by the state’s more than two million Firearm Owners’ Identification (FOID) cardholders.
“It is unconscionable for the governor and the legislature to ask for honest gun owners to pay more money for a constitutional right when the money they are already paying is going to fund other programs and services,” ISRA President Richard Pearson said.
“Our office gets daily calls from people who are having difficulties navigating the FOID card process so it’s no wonder we see these problems, given a significant portion of the money intended to fund the program has been raided for other state programs.”
A government raiding funding from one program to help pay for another is hardly new. Governments have been doing that for decades. The problem, however, is that this program is meant to facilitate a constitutionally-protected right, namely the right to keep and bear arms. People cannot legally purchase a firearm in the state without a FOID card, yet the money meant to make it possible is being diverted to other places.
More than that, though, people are required to pay for these cards and are not getting what they’re paying for.
This, of course, is what happens when governments get a say in who can and can’t exercise certain civil rights. Such a situation opens the opportunity for the government to do some shady stuff, especially when it’s a government that is outright hostile to the civil right in question. Illinois is raiding the FOID funding simply because they don’t really want anyone buying guns in the first place.
They’re doing it because they can and they’re not worried about repercussions from anyone.
After all, the people making these decisions weren’t likely to get the gun owner vote in the first place and they know it. Further, anti-gun voters aren’t going to think a thing about this, so nothing will be done. They’ll continue doing it until/unless the courts get involved. Even then, it’s Illinois. I wouldn’t get my hopes up.
Still, maybe shining some light on their actions will at least force them to resist the urge to raid these funds in the future.
We can hope, at least.