Illinois Supreme Court to consider FOIDs again

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

The Firearm Owners ID, or FOID, required in the state of Illinois is something no gun rights advocate would tolerate. Yes, they appear to be a “shall-issue” kind of thing, but that’s really not the point. The point is that I shouldn’t have to have a special ID just to exercise a constitutionally protected right.

The Illinois State Supreme Court has had the opportunity to rule them unconstitutional before. They just decided not to for some reason.

No, don’t ask me how they came to that conclusion. Just understand they did.

You should also know they’re going to get a chance to correct that mistake.

The Illinois Supreme Court is being asked for a second time to decide whether a state law requiring gun owners to have a firearm permit is unconstitutional — a question the court previously declined to answer.

The case involves a White County resident, Vivian Claudine Brown, who was charged in March 2017 with possession of a firearm without a Firearm Owner’s Identification, or FOID card.

The charge was filed after her husband had called the White County Sheriff’s Office to report that she had fired a gun in their home. When officers arrived, they found a rifle beside her bed but no evidence that she had fired it.

Nonetheless, she was charged with the crime. But a circuit judge in White County threw out the charge, saying the Illinois law requiring potential gun owners to fill out a form, provide a picture ID, undergo a background check and pay a $10 fee to obtain a FOID card was unconstitutional, at least as it applied to Brown. The judge said it imposed a burden on Brown’s Second Amendment right to keep a firearm in her own home for self-defense.

The circuit court went on to say, even though Brown’s attorneys never raised the issue, that it is impossible to comply with the act in one’s own home. That’s because it would mean anybody who had knowledge of a firearm in the home and exclusive control over the area where it was kept could be construed as possessing the gun and therefore would have to have their FOID card on their person 24 hours a day.

That’s an interesting argument on the part of the judge, and I can’t help but think he’s been looking for an opportunity to drop this particular bomb.

He makes a valid point, though. Anyone who could gain access to a gun could be arrested for not having a FOID, even if they weren’t the firearm’s actual owner.

It should also be noted that the FOID doesn’t really do anything except duplicate background check processes already required prior to buying a firearm in the first place, especially since they have a universal background check law.

This case should be a slam dunk, but this is Illinois. Some justices are already arguing the court shouldn’t even take the case, which isn’t a good sign.

Regardless, though, FOIDs and anything like them needs to end.

The Second Amendment preserves the right to keep and bear arms. We wouldn’t tolerate any other right being restricted in such a manner. No one would stand for requiring a permit in order to own a computer and or have internet access, now would they? No one would support requiring a license to carry a smartphone.

Yet all of those are tools used to exercise a constitutionally protected right.

Like it or not, firearms are no different. It’s well past time for the courts to acknowledge that fact and to strike down these archaic and unconstitutional laws. They never should have been passed in the first place, but now it’s time for them to go.