(The Center Square) – If it’s been a while since you’ve logged on to the Illinois State Police Firearm Owner Identification portal, you’ll notice some changes. This, as new hires to process more than 142,000 backlogged applications will take six months to train.
A recent update to the ISP website ISP.Illinois.gov includes an updated portal for FOID card and Concealed Carry Licenses applicants that requires a verified email address or cell phone to log in. Information about the cost to taxpayers for the updates, and whether it was outsourced, wasn’t immediately available.
The Illinois State Rifle Association said the additional steps requiring an email address or cell phone could be problematic.
“I feel that this is an additional hardship for those who are technologically challenged or for those who do not have a computer to receive emails or a smartphone to receive text messages,” said ISRA Executive Director Richard Pearson. “We feel this will negatively affect hundreds of thousands of Illinois gun owners, Conceal Carry permit holders, Licensed Firearm Dealers, and Conceal Carry Instructors. We have notified our attorneys of this problem.”
State Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur, said the update does provide an additional hurdle.
“It is in a way, but it’s also I think the ISP, they’re trying to modernize their system, trying to get it so people can get a response quicker on where their application is,” Caulkins said.
The latest numbers provided by state police on Friday reflect numbers reported earlier this month. There are 142,324 pending FOID applications. ISP says there were more FOID applications in the single month of June than from November 2019 to February 2020.
“If this trend continues, it is conceivable that Illinois could reach 3,000,000 FOID cardholders,” Pearson said of the flood of applications. “That would be the largest single voting block in the state.”
More people are being hired to help process the applications, ISP said, but training for the job takes a minimum of six months.
Caulkins warned the backlog will be compounded by a “tsunami” of FOID renewals that have been pushed back during the pandemic.
“It’s a mess, it just truly is a mess and until we do something about the FOID cards it’s going to get worse,” he said.
Under an emergency rule, expired FOID cards are valid for 18 months after the pandemic subsides.
“I give the [ISP] director credit for trying hard to correct a problem that predates him but until we actually get to the bottom of this and decide that the FOID card is not necessary, this is going to continue to be a problem,” Caulkins said.
People already go through background checks when they purchase firearms, Caulkins said, and the FOID is infringing on people’s Second Amendment rights.
The Illinois State Rifle Association said it is continuing to pursue legal action against the state over the delays. The group encourages anyone who has been stuck in limbo to contact the group.