Why People Are Opposed To FOID Bill

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The FOID system in Illinois is pretty stupid. It’s bogged down and doesn’t even accomplish a tenth of what it’s supposed to accomplish. While some claim such a system is needed, they never seem to have an answer for just how criminals are still getting guns in their state. It’s an absolute mystery.

And that was before the system got incredibly bogged down.

Lawmakers are trying to address the problems–including some claims by anti-gunners who have issues with the FOID system, too–but there are aspects that seem to infuriate everyone.

Both sides of the debate over gun ownership in Illinois got some of what they wanted after lawmakers approved a bill updating the state’s FOID law.

Gun rights advocates were pleased the bill would relieve a notorious backlog in FOID — or firearm owners identification — cards. Gun control proponents praised expanded background checks and additional tools for law enforcement to remove firearms from people who have had their cards revoked.

But a little something for everybody isn’t enough for supporters of gun rights or gun control. Both promised to continue pushing for more extreme changes to the FOID law (HB 562), which is waiting to be sent to Gov. J.B Pritzker for his signature.

Illinois’ FOID law first went into effect in 1968 and requires residents to obtain an identification card from state police before they can legally own guns or ammunition. State police can deny a card to people convicted of felonies or violent offenses such as domestic violence, assault or battery.

Of course, it should be noted that those same things tend to show up during a NICS background check, thus making an FOID redundant in that regard.

The law also requires police to approve or deny applications within 30 days, a far cry from how long it actually takes. In May, the average processing time for a new applicant was over six and a half months, and seven months for renewals, according to Illinois State Police, infuriating rightful gun owners.

Gun control advocates weren’t happy with enforcement of gun revocations, and believe the changes would help police take firearms away from dangerous people.

Neither side is happy with the data that reflects their concerns, and hope the legislation will help. More than 12,700 Illinoisans applied for new FOID cards in May alone, adding to the state’s backlog. In 2019, more than 1,300 people died from firearm injuries in Illinois, or nearly 11 people per 100,000 — the 35th in the nation.

Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly says the bill won’t solve all of the state’s problems, but it’s a step in the right direction.

“It doesn’t solve every problem we have with gun safety and FOID, but it makes significant progress on both fronts,” Kelly said. “It makes it easier for the good guys and make it harder for the bad guys.”

Except, it really doesn’t. It doesn’t do anything for the bad guys.

We know from multiple studies that criminals don’t buy guns from gun stores. They get them from black market dealers, friends, family, or they steal them from law-abiding citizens. Only a tiny fraction ever get them from gun stores and many of those haven’t been arrested for a disqualifying offense.

The FOID doesn’t really do much to stop criminals. It never will, which is why it’s infuriating watching Illinois residents–including friends who had to wait for months in order to get permission to even purchase a firearm–have to deal with this insanity. Especially since just looking at the average weekend death toll from Chicago shows you just how poorly the system works.

Plus, let’s be honest here, the fact that anti-gunners are harping on the revocation aspect illustrates the biggest issue with FOID cards, and that’s how the government knows which doors to kick in to confiscate firearms. That’s never going to be acceptable to me, nor should it be.

But then again, it’s not like Illinois has ever really shown they cared about people’s right to keep and bear arms.