Illinois law mandates that the Illinois State Police administer the Prairie State’s gun control schemes, including the much hated Firearms Owners ID cards as well as concealed carry licensing. Even before the Chinese flu hit last year, the ISP struggled to keep up with FOID and CCW applications. After the COVID lockdowns began, and especially after last summer’s widespread “mostly peaceful” riots and looting, our fearless state police fell impossibly behind.
The Land of Lincoln’s FOID Act allows ISP 30 days to process new Firearm Owner ID card applications. With a few limited exceptions, these cards are required, by law, for anyone to handle, purchase, own or use firearms legally. In other words, if one wants to exercise their Second Amendment rights in Illinois, one must first pay $11 and wait for the government to send them a permission slip/card.
Meanwhile, the legislature has swept tens of millions of dollars from the budget for the Firearm Services Bureau – the ISP division that handles firearms licensing schemes – leaving them very short staffed. Unable to comply with the rule of law, the agency sought and received an emergency exemption under COVID that allows it up to 18 months after the governor declares an end to COVID to process those new applications. That clock hasn’t even started ticking yet.
To their credit, ISP’s FSB is prioritizing new FOID applications. On the other hand, those with existing FOID cards that expire face even longer waits. The law says ISP is supposed to process FOID renewals in 60 business days. Call that around 90 calendar days.
Today, it’s not uncommon for people to wait six to twelve months for their FOID renewals. And even (much) longer.
Right now, your author submitted a renewal application for his FOID card in the first week of March 2020. As of this writing – sixteen plus months later – I still do not have a valid FOID card – at least on its face. In their kind benevolence, and under the emergency rules that allow the ISP to extend processing of applications, my expiration is COVID-19 and the card is considered valid in state computers. Even though it said it expired in June 2020.
So, if I didn’t have a valid carry license, I could not purchase ammo or firearms at retailers if I could not prove to their satisfaction that I’d applied for the renewal. Some retailers, including many of the big box stores, will not honor a card that’s not showing valid on its face regardless if you show them proof you’ve applied for a renewal.
Some people have asked me, “Don’t you know people?” I do. But I’m intentionally not asking for special attention because I want to see what it’s like for everyday people who don’t have contacts within the ISP and the ISP’s Firearms Services Bureau. Sadly, what I’ve seen isn’t pretty.
Tens of thousands of other gun owners have faced over a year-plus waits for their FOID renewals. Many of the downstate elected Representatives and Senators report that the single biggest constituent service they provide is nudging the ISP to check on FOID applications and renewals.
But waiting sixteen-plus months and counting for a FOID renewal could be worse.
Ask Michelle Ann.
You thought your driver’s license picture was terrible?!
After waiting months and months for her FOID renewal, Michelle Ann (last name redacted for privacy) finally received it in the mail towards the end of May. Yeah, you thought your driver’s license picture was terrible? Michelle looked at her new FOID card and about cried. The image on the FOID card – the gun license she waited since August 2020 to receive was distinctly unflattering – and not her. The signature didn’t belong to her either.
Michelle’s case has a happy ending. The red-faced peeps at ISP-FSB processed her complaint and sent out a new FOID card within a couple of weeks – not months. Give them credit for that.
One would think the employees at the Illinois State Police bureau that handle our state’s firearm licensing would double- and triple-check their work before sending these documents out. Yes, we’re all human and make mistakes, but they are certainly taking their sweet time processing the cards. It’s not like they are rushing these out within a few days of receiving them (like Florida does with their concealed carry renewals).
Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to the be case.
Concealed carry applicants also face problems. Yes, they have the right pictures (in most cases) but see if you can spot the problem with this card…
Janie’s carry license expired last June. She applied months early and finally at the end of March 2021 the ISP Firearm Services Bureau sent her a new license. The license they issued on March 29th expired the previous June.
I contacted my favorite lieutenant at the Illinois State Police back in April about this. I advised that I had some personal matters (my mom died) that kept me occupied and away from writing about this screw up. Trying to give them a chance to make this right without an embarrassing story, I offered to forget about it if they remedied the problematic document in a timely manner.
Unlike Michelle’s case above, Janie still hasn’t received her valid carry license. Three months later.
Just a one-off, you say?
Poor James from Joliet doesn’t think so. The ISP issued his carry license renewal card on January 13, 2021 and it shows and expiration over a year earlier – November 24, 2019. As of June 2021 he still is carrying around his “new” license, still attached to the letter from ISP, as he waits for them to issue a corrected card.
These are but a few cases reported to me.
In fairness, I’ve met some outstanding people who work for and/or retired from the Illinois State Police. Heck, I even helped one move his family to north of Philo, IL, the center of the universe (as it says on the water tower). I haven’t met a bad sworn officer yet and the people working at the Firearms Services Bureau – sworn and unsworn – have without exception shown themselves as courteous, competent, helpful and decent people.
We shouldn’t blame the decent people trying to make this flawed FOID scheme work. Instead, we should repeal the FOID Act which only hobbles the law-abiding. You think any of those gang members in Chicago responsible for 22 killed and 90 maimed over the Independence Day holiday weekend had FOID cards? If you believe they did (or might have) you’re either a fool or a partisan hack.
As for the carry license scheme, with its onerous training requirement (including its costs) and outrageous application fees ($153 and change) that disenfranchise the poor from exercising their right to carry a firearm in public for self-defense, that program should be scrapped as well. Nearly half the nation now has Constitutional Carry. In other words, anyone who can legally possess firearms under law can carry one for self-defense – concealed or not-so-concealed without any special license.
Rest assured, if permitless concealed carry caused even a trickle of blood in the streets, our legacy mainstream media and their steadfast opposition to firearm rights for the little people would report it to the ends of the earth. Constitutional carry isn’t a problem and there are no problems in the states that practice it.
At the same time, we realize this is Illinois. Our state does one thing well: giving its residents reasons to move out of our state.