Illinois House Republicans are demanding answers about delays with FOID Cards and Concealed Carry Licenses in the state. Representatives Avery Bourne, C.D. Davidsmeyer, Mike Marron, and Patrick Windhorst held a Zoom press conference yesterday addressing the delays and outlined their shared 2nd Amendment agenda for the upcoming legislative session.
Davidsmeyer says that some FOID Card owners are running into issues purchasing ammunition: “My constituents are going in during hunting season trying to purchase ammunition or even a new gun to go hunting, and they can’t do it because their FOID is expired. Even though the State Police have said: ‘We are going to extend this.’ The retailers are so concerned about the liability they have if they do sell to the wrong person that they will not sell to anybody. It’s an understandable position to be in as a retailer. Now, on the other side, if my father-in-law from Ohio comes to visit to go hunting, he can go in and buy ammunition without a FOID Card. All he has to do is show that he is not from Illinois, so we are second-class citizens in our own state.”
Davidsmeyer did not blame the Illinois State Police for the problems with the FOID system. He says it takes a legislative action to amend the laws to have the system work properly: “It takes a legislative fix, and we have to come together because this is an infringement on people’s rights. Right now, [the state police] are at least at twice the allowable time to go through and process a FOID Card. Then, if you have a problem with your FOID and you have an appeal, there is zero timeline. They can sit that on a desk and let it sit there for years. There’s no rule. We have to fix that. If the State of Illinois expects the people of the State of Illinois to follow the rules, the least we should expect is for the State Police to do the same.”
Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly, in a press release and statement after the GOP conference, called the delays unacceptable and called the FOID system antiquated and inefficient: “We find these delays unacceptable. It is not up to our standards of serving with integrity and pride. We are doing everything that we possibly can, but it is going to require some more fundamental change and some more flexibility to address these inefficiencies.”
Bourne accused the Pritzker Administration for failing to lead on the issue after House GOP members called a similar press conference 280 days prior to yesterday’s ZOOM conference: “All we have seen are executive orders that provide some relief for renewal but no real solutions particularly for people who are initially applying for their FOID or Concealed Carry [license]. Additionally, we hear regularly from gun dealers who are really wary about these provisionally-valid FOIDs and what that does for the certainty of their own business in selling guns and ammunition to these people that have provisionally-valid FOIDs. Rather than the governor choosing a collaborative, legislative fix for these issues, he has again chosen to go it alone and it has not gone well.”
Marron accused state Democrats of sweeping $28 million out of the FOID fund for operation of the FOID Card system. All four legislators said they would be sponsoring a bill to eliminate the system all together. Windhorst, who is a member of the House Judiciary Criminal Law Committee and a former prosecutor, acknowledged that elimination of the program is not likely to happen with the current make up of the General Assembly; but he along with his fellow representatives hope it brings conversation to the table to reform and fix the current delays in the system.