One has a right to keep and bear arms. That right “shall not be infringed,” as the country’s founding document unambiguously states. But how long should one have to wait before one can exercise that right? More specifically, before one can carry a firearm in public for self-defense?
A day? A week? A month? A year?
For residents in the Land of Lincoln the wait time for a Concealed Carry License (CCL) is supposed to be less than 90 days for applications with fingerprints and less than 120 days for applications without fingerprints.
However, those deadlines are being missed by more than a month in some instances (taking 120 and 140 days respectively), according to NBC 5 Chicago investigation.
One pro-2A organization told GunsAmerica it is considering suing the state, arguing that the status quo is completely unacceptable.
“The Second Amendment Foundation’s successful lawsuit forced Illinois to pass their concealed carry permit law. Now in Illinois they have done everything they could to discourage people from exercising their rights,” said Alan Gottlieb, the founder of SAF, in an email to GunsAmerica.
“A right delayed is a right denied. We are considering taking legal to end this abuse of process,” he added.
The Illinois State Police (ISP) says that they are aware of the delays and are hoping a new automated system will speed up the process.
“The Department is aware of issues surrounding the Call Center and currently is working on implementing a VoIP call center solution to provide much needed improvements and efficiencies,” said an Illinois State Police spokesperson.
Right now the state’s Firearm Services Bureau call center is staffed with only five people to answer about 20,000 calls each week.
The new system — which will cost $750,000 to set up and $10,000 per month to operate — will allow callers to renew a Firearms Ownership Identification (FOID) card or a CCL with no address change over the phone without speaking to a live agent, says ISP.
Obtaining a CCL in Illinois not only take more time than it does in other states but it also requires more from the applicant. Prospective CCL holders must obtain a FOID card, take a sixteen-hour course, pass a marksmanship test and pay $150 fee before they can lawfully carry outside the home.
There are over 300,000 active permit holders in Illinois. ISP is currently processing 33,930 first-time and renewal CCL applications, according to NBC 5.
ISP said that frustrated residents may call (217) 782-7980 or email the Firearms Services Bureau at firstname.lastname@example.org. One may also visit the ISP website for general FOID/CCL information.
The obvious doesn’t need to be stated… but Illinois could avoid this nightmare altogether if it just switched over to Constitutional Carry aka permitless carry. As many as 16 states have done so and not one has turned into the “Wild Wild West” as anti-gunners prognosticated.
Sure, ISP would still need to issue CCLs for reciprocity reasons but, in the meantime, thousands of law-abiding Illinoisans would not be prohibited from exercising a fundamental right.