ISP’s Firearm Services Bureau is awash in money, but under Gov. J.B. Pritzker it fails to hire adequate staff to provide decent service to Illinois’ gun owners.
by John Boch
Illinois political leaders who back gun control claim that law-abiding gun owners need extensive licensing and regulation to keep our fellow Land of Lincoln residents safe from gun crime.
What’s more, they claim the fees from these licensing regimes are dedicated to funding the Illinois State Police’s implementation of these schemes.
In the real world, the Illinois State Police’s Firearms Service Bureau (FSB) has consistently failed to process Firearms Owners Identification card applications and renewals in a timely manner. In fact, the ISP’s FSB often fails to comply with the generous
time-tables for processing these license requests established by law.
Illinois concealed carry applicants face many of the same issues.
And for those people needing help, customer service literally isn’t there. Their customer service phone line receives many thousands of calls each day.
How do they handle all those callers over at ISP headquarters? They don’t.
The computer hangs up on callers once their hold queue fills, which doesn’t take long with only fifteen people to handle all those calls for help.
Now, if you guessed that the Illinois State Police’s Firearms Services Bureau (FSB) is as broke as the rest of the state, and that’s the reason for this poor service, then you failed that pop quiz.
In reality, the ISP’s FSB has enjoyed a tsunami of cash since Illinois implemented its pricey concealed carry licensing program.
Now, if you guessed that the money has consistently been misappropriated or diverted instead of spent on its intended purposes, then your cynicism is well-founded.
The Land of Lincoln’s carry license application fee stands at a pricey $153 and change for residents. Of that, per the Firearms Concealed Carry Act:
$120 shall be apportioned to the State Police Firearm Services Fund, $20 shall be apportioned to the Mental Health Reporting Fund, and $10 shall be apportioned to the State Crime Laboratory Fund
Multiply that times hundreds of thousands of applications, and that quickly adds up to real money.
So, how did Illinois State Police spend that money? In short, they didn’t. The Moms At Arms blog has done some great investigative reporting on this.
The Firearm Service Fund was created to fund the Firearm Services Bureau. The ISP spent only 13% of the expenditure authority monies in 2014. In fact, for the three years 2014 to 2016 combined, as money poured in by the tens of millions, the FSB only spent only one quarter ($15,875,735) of the $61,153,400 authorized.
The rest was “swept” into the Illinois General fund.
2018 marked more of much the same.
What’s more, not long ago The Illinois Times exposed just a few of the problems within the Firearm Services Bureau as part of their reporting on a messy sex scandal at ISP headquarters among those tasked with managing Illinois’ gun licensing regimes.
The ickiness started in 2013, when Christina Hibbert, an Illinois State Police employee assigned to the Firearms Service Bureau that issues firearm owners identification cards and concealed-carry permits, began an affair with Master Sergeant Anthony McClure.
They were not discreet. Someone once spotted McClure standing between Hibbert’s spread legs as she sat in an office chair while he rubbed his crotch. Early on, Hibbert reportedly told a coworker that she and the master sergeant were having sex inside headquarters.
While The Illinois Times focused on the raunchy sex-in-the-workplace angle, their story exposed all manner of problems within the Firearms Service Bureau.
The coworker would later testify that the Firearms Service Bureau was no fun: Morale was low, stress was high, there weren’t enough employees, it was taking more than four months to issue FOID cards that were supposed to go out in 30 days and McClure and Hibbert took lunches as long as two hours. Overtime was mandatory, and some overworked employees didn’t appreciate trysts that were so obvious that when someone once asked another where McClure and Hibbert were, another employee guessed they were probably having sex, according to investigative files.
Yet plenty of money existed to hire more staff at competitive wages to better serve Illinois gun owners. However, providing good service to gun owners is not among Governor J.B. Pritzker priorities. After all, the Illinois State Police has some outstanding people who work there, but their leadership does the governor’s bidding.
Meanwhile, last year Rep. Kathleen Willis proposed hiking the FOID application fees by 400% in order to fund Illinois State Police enforcement activities as part of SB-1966. As if the ISP is broke. From Michael Bloomberg’s The Trace:
…The overhaul’s primary sponsor, Representative Kathleen Willis, a Democrat from Northlake, left a committee hearing on May 21 intent on making revisions after her colleagues raised concerns about increasing the price of a Firearm Owners Identification card, the license needed to legally possess guns in Illinois, from $10 to $50. The revenues would fund a new State Police task force charged with investigating revoked license holders who failed to surrender their firearms, offset State Police administrative costs, and pay for state-run mental health programs. [Emphasis added]
So Rep. Kathleen Willis, who already has a reputation for playing fast and loose with the truth when it comes to gun control advocacy, says the ISP needs more money to carry out its duties.
When State of Illinois audits show the ISP isn’t spending the money they already have where it’s supposed to be spent, it surely looks like Kathleen Willis is either just another lying politician or a political hack.
Not only that, but the Moms At Arms blog has found how another State of Illinois audit uncovered that the ISP personnel failed to properly allocate the early revenue stream from carry license application fees. From the report:
Department personnel stated the receipts initially could not be deposited due to not knowing the breakdown of how much to deposit in each of the three funds involved.
Because they couldn’t read the law?
As for State Rep. Kathleen Willis, what’s next from her pie hole? Is she going to tell us with a straight face that strict gun control laws have kept Chicago residents safe for generations?