CHICAGO — Big delays continue in the processing of Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) cards and concealed carry licenses in Illinois.
It should take 30 days to process a FOID card application, but as of Wednesday the wait time is 121 days and it takes 145 days for a concealed carry license.
Gerald Brand helps customers with applications as a gun dealer in Litchfield.
“Years ago it used to be a pretty good system where you could get on and get approvals and renew cards for people,” Brand said. “Now it’s virtually impossible to do so.”
State lawmakers are monitoring the problem, with both Democrats and Republicans saying they heard from constituents who’ve been waiting for months.
“Law-abiding gun owners should not have to endure ridiculously long periods of time getting their FOID cards renewed,” said Rep. Mike Marron (R-Danville).
The problem impacts not just people who want to buy guns, but also some people who need a valid card for sportsmen clubs or private security jobs, or even working in a firearms store.
Some Illinois House GOP lawmakers blame Governor JB Pritzker.
“My constituents feel that they are falling out of compliance with the law because they cannot apply or renew their FOID card in time,” said Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Litchfield).
Pritzker blamed delays on a spike in gun purchases during the pandemic.
“In 2020, there was a significant increase in purchases of firearms by an enormous amount and so it just exacerbated the backlog that already existed,” Pritzker said.
Illinois State Police acknowledge the backlog, pointing out that the number of FOID card holders has grown from 1.2 million people to 2.2 million people in a decade, including a 167% increase in applications from 2017 to today.
ISP Director Brendan Kelly admits the FOID and concealed carry process is antiquated, outdated and ineffective.
To clear more applications, ISP says it hired more firearms eligibility analysts and overhauled the online application process.
Republicans say the website doesn’t work and some want to just scrap the FOID card system.
“The retailers are so concerned about the liability that they may have if they do sell to the wrong person that they will not sell to anybody,” Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer (R-Jacksonville). The people working at FOID are working their tails off trying to get all these things done… They just don’t have the leadership to fix a broken system.”
Democratic Senator Julie Morrison, who is pushing to have FOID card applicants fingerprinted, says her bill would help clear the backlog because it would provide money for ISP to hire more people to process applications.
“This provides the resources that the state police needs to adequately staff up so they can do these registration, these renews on time,” Morrison said.