There's A Better Way To Improve Illinois' FOID System. Scrap It

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The state of Illinois requires gun owners to have a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card, or FOID. Unfortunately, there are issues with the system.

Thanks to the gun-buying surge that began last year amid COVID-19 fears, the FOID system became incredibly bogged down. People can’t get FOIDs, which means they can’t get their guns.


Now, there’s an effort to fix the problem.

It’s been a busy couple years for gun stores in Illinois, and sales continue to soar.

But now, some state lawmakers and the Illinois State Police are taking aim at the huge backlog in processing firearm owner identification cards, also known as FOID cards.

There’s been an explosion in gun ownership in Illinois over the past few years, and FOID card applications have nearly doubled since 2017.

“And then came 2020,” said Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly. “With the social tensions caused by civil unrest and global pandemic, the firearm services bureau was confronted by a massive increase across all categories in their workloads.”

Under the law, state police are supposed to process a FOID card application in about 30 days. But now, it’s taking months and, in some cases, even a year to get a FOID card.

The proposed legislation would change the timing requirements to reduce the number of renewal applications.

There is, of course, a better way to fix the system. That’s to do away with it entirely.

See, every legal firearm sale in the state already has to go through a licensed gun dealer. That means they already undergo a background check prior to purchasing a gun. It makes no sense that they have to go through a background check prior to going through a background check. It’s absolutely insane. (Yes, those universal background checks go too far, too, but one thing at a time.)


Further, it’s not like the criminals of Chicago are getting FOID cards prior to obtaining their firearms. Why should law-abiding citizens be at a disadvantage to the criminals?

Obviously, they shouldn’t.

Illinois’ FOID system was a failure well before the delays. As such, it just makes more sense to scrap the system entirely and accept that it just doesn’t do what proponents hoped it would do.

Of course, the alternative is to claim it did. Then you have to make the case that Chicago would be even worse without it, which you’re going to have a hard time convincing people of. I mean, it makes Beruit in the 80s look like peaceful country estate as things currently are. Saying it would be worse is going to conjure some seriously messed-up images.

So, it doesn’t work. Scrap it. Let the people of Illinois be free to buy guns when they want to, assuming their shelves are stocked.

I guarantee that not only will crime not increase, but is likely to go down as a result of more firearms on the streets in the hands of law-abiding citizens for a change. More guns mean less crime, but only if the guns are with the good guys. As it stands, that’s not how it’s working.


And we see how that’s working.

Scrap FOIDs and move forward without it. The state of Illinois will ultimately be glad they did.


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