Illinois State Police agree to end "fee stacking"

(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Buying a gun in Illinois is a pain. You can’t just go into a gun store, get a NICS check, and buy a gun. You have to have a FOID card, first.

While the card is pretty much a “shall issue” kind of thing, you still have to jump through hoops just to get the card so you can undergo a background check when you buy a firearm.

Then, to add insult to injury, the Illinois State Police decided unilaterally to add additional fees in order to issue the blasted thing.

While the FOID isn’t likely to die an inglorious death anytime soon, at least the state police have agreed to stop adding fees.

Yes, Illinois still has the much-reviled Firearms Owners ID Card. However, thanks to a class-action lawsuit settlement, the Illinois State Police have agreed to end their egregious practice of fee stacking, charging FOID applicants an extra dollar to process their application fee for the 10-year license.

The ISP announced the proposed settlement in recent days. It nets the Maag law firm a $100,000 payday while leaving roughly 2.5 million Land of Lincoln FOID holders with nothing other than the good news that the dollar will no longer be charged for renewals once the settlement is finalized.

Illinois gun rights group Guns Save Lives have said they don’t intend to object to the settlement–an email was sent to all FOID holders–but they do note that individuals can opt-out in order to file a lawsuit themselves.

The group also said they’re not thrilled with the settlement, but they’re not going to challenge this because they’re busy challenging the FOID requirement itself.

I can totally respect that.

Additionally, I’m glad to see the state police admit they crossed the line but there should be some form of restitution, even if it was just a refund on the additional fees from their last FOID. Folks aren’t getting that, and that’s simply not right.

However, the bigger picture, though, is they won’t be charged those fees when they renew their permits down the road. That is still, ultimately, a win and there’s no way the state police are thrilled with that.

The law is the law, though.

What gun rights advocates in Illinois need to dig in and prepare for is the Illinois State Police asking legislators to up the FOID fees with a portion going to them. Those additional fees weren’t just going in officers’ pockets. They were, at least in theory, going to offset the expenses of issuing permits.

They just couldn’t legally charge them.

So, what I suspect they’ll do is lobby lawmakers to include those fees as part of the law itself so they can charge them. At that point, no gun owner comes out ahead.

I won’t be surprised to see that come up this legislative session, so it makes sense to start making sure you’re talking to lawmakers and make it clear you won’t support any increase in the cost of a FOID.

In the meantime, enjoy the win.