The Illinois State Rifle Association says it has received several dozen phone calls from irate firearm owners who have been waiting a month or more to have their applications for Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) cards processed by the Illinois State Police, according to an ISRA press release issued Friday.
ISRA says under Illinois law, persons wishing to purchase or possess firearms and/or ammunition must hold a valid FOID card. To obtain a FOID card, one must complete an official application form and submit the form along with a recent photo and the required fee to the Illinois State Police for processing. Once issued, a FOID card is valid for 10 years. Upon expiration, the application process must be repeated. Persons who possess firearms or ammunition without holding a valid FOID card are subject to arrest and felony prosecution.
Illinois law also requires that, within 30 days of the application date, the ISP must either issue a FOID card to the applicant or provide the applicant with written notification explaining why their application was turned down.
The ISRA says when inquiries into the backlog were made, representatives were told by ISP officials that inadequate staffing and funding were to blame for the slowdown in application processing. According to the ISRA, those same officials were unable to say when, if ever, the situation would improve.
"FOID processing delays are becoming a chronic problem for the Illinois State Police," says ISRA Executive Director Richard Pearson. "But, to be honest, the state's law-abiding firearm owners are not interested in hearing excuses. We have heard from dozens of gun owners who, in good faith, filed for FOID renewals well in advance of the card expiration date just to see that expiration date come and go with no renewal card in their mailbox."
Pearson says the situation is "very serious."
"By failing to process FOID renewals in a timely manner," he says. "The Illinois State Police are, in effect, denying the applicant's right to own firearms. Without a valid FOID, an otherwise law-abiding citizen cannot hunt, go to the target range, or even continue to own their lawfully acquired firearms."
Pearson says the ISRA will be working closely with state legislators to "fence funding and positions within the ISP" to ensure that backlogs do not occur in the future.
The Illinois State Police did not respond to media requests for this story.
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