Legislature fails to address FOID card backlog

(The Center Square) – Lawmakers left Springfield for the summer without addressing the persistent backlog of Firearm Owner’s Identification Card applications, leaving tens of thousands of people facing long waits to be able to buy firearms.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday said the FOID card issue is a “very important issue.”

“When I came into office there was a big backlog of issuance of FOID cards and made more challenging by the way by the large number of people who purchased guns over the last two years,” Pritzker said.

Illinoiasn cannot buy or own a firearm or ammunition without a valid FOID card. While there are tens of thousands of applicants with outstanding renewals provided a grace period for their cards, there are others who are first-time applicants that cannot buy weapons or ammo.

“And so we wanted to work on that in the general assembly and we did and now there’s a bill that’s headed to my desk,” Pritzker said.

But, the legislature isn’t in agreement on a FOID card bill.

“We’re going to continue to have conversations on it,” said House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside. “The House passed a FOID bill. Our folks in the House had one view of that and then the Senate has a different view. We’re going to continue those conversations.”

One measure that passed the House would mandate FOID applicants to submit fingerprints. The Senate passed a measure that made fingerprints optional.

Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, said he’s got experience crafting gun legislation.

“But I have learned from fighting for common sense gun-safety laws for 20 years that you have to take what you can get in a bill that you can pass,” Harmon said.

While those competing bills could be the focus of where the state goes with FOID policy, some in the minority Republican party say the FOID card is unconstitutional and needs to be scrapped.

The state’s FOID and other gun laws face about a dozen lawsuits in state and federal court.

In White County, a circuit court judge in April ruled the FOID card requirement for people to have a firearm in their own home is unconstitutional.

It’s unclear when lawmakers will return to Springfield. Some lawmakers have said that could happen in the weeks to address the state’s energy policies.

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