Amid continued delays for processing Firearm Owner Identification card applications and renewals by the Illinois State Police, a group of state lawmakers and citizens called for either the FOID law to be repealed or legislation to address the delays and other gaps.
Former Vermilion County State’s Attorney Randy Brinegar said he applied to renew his FOID renewal last summer. When he didn’t hear back, he went to the State Police Headquarters in Springfield in January. He said he was told there would be no appointment and someone would call him back. He said he was still waiting.
“But I have to be in compliance with the law and as a former law enforcement officer, I don’t want to be not in compliance and so here I am without a FOID card and it’s going on eight months now,” Brinegar said.
Another problem state Rep. Patrick Windhorst, R-Metropolis, highlighted were people with expired cards getting a letter from ISP that their card is good while applications are being processed. But he said gun dealers tell him they won’t accept that from buyers as valid.
“That means that they’re not able to purchase a firearm or ammunition, and in my opinion will have their constitutional rights infringed,” Windhorst said.
State Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville, said his office has been flooded with calls from constituents about the delays.
“I have veterans that come to my office. They can’t reach anybody at the Illinois State Police. They have to wait three to four months,” Meier said. “I have people call terrified.”
It’s illegal to possess firearms or ammunition without a valid FOID card in Illinois.
Part of the problem, Republicans said, was the revelation that nearly $30 million was swept from funds derived from FOID card and concealed carry license fees over several years. That money was used by state lawmakers for other purposes.
State Rep. Mike Marron, R-Fithian, said what’s happening now is infringing on citizens’ Second Amendment rights.
“The state needs to take some accountability and start to manage this program, if not it needs to go away,” Marron said. “Simple as that.”
Republicans outlined eight bills concerning the FOID card and a proposed constitutional amendment would create a lockbox for FOID card fees to keep them from being used for other purposes. Most of the bills remain in the House Rules Committee.
HB 4391 would ban local government units from imposing taxes or fees on firearms and ammunition and is in the House Judiciary – Criminal Committee.
The following bills are filed but remain in the House Rules Committee:
HB 4392 would eliminate the 72-hour waiting period for individuals that have been granted a valid license to carry a concealed handgun under the Firearm Concealed Carry Act.
HB 4393 would lower the fee to obtain a concealed carry license from $150 to $100.
HB 4397 grants exclusive power to the State of Illinois in regard to the regulation of the ownership and possession of firearms and invalidates existing and future local ordinances or resolutions that require local registration, or local reporting of the sale or transfer of a firearm, and bans municipalities from maintaining any kind of firearm registry.
HB 4398 allows any individual that has received a permit to conceal carry a firearm to do so on public transportation.
HB 4447 states that any renewal application shall be accepted by the Illinois State Police if submitted within 180 days before the expiration of the applicant’s FOID card or concealed carry license.
HB 4448 would require the Illinois State Police to automatically renew any concealed carry license holder’s FOID card as long as their concealed carry license is in good standing until the time that the concealed carry license expires.
HB 4450 spells out the process by which any appeal of the denial of a FOID card or concealed carry license must be handled and provides specific guidelines for the State Police in regard to the time it takes to process any such appeal.
HJRCA 40 would amend the Illinois Constitution to place fees collected from FOID and CCL applicants in a ‘lockbox’ fund that would be protected from future fund sweeps.