Extreme wait times for Illinois FOID cards and concealed carry permits have residents speaking out, reports local news affiliate ABC 7.
Terrence Thrower, who hails from the Windy City, misplaced his wallet that contained both his permit to carry and his FOID card last year.
Thrower says he’s been waiting eight months for the state to grant his request for replacements.
“I feel extremely unsafe every time I walk out of my house,” he explained, noting the rise in crime in the city (carjackings have doubled, homicides up 50%).
“It’s scary, because I feel like I can’t protect myself or my family,” he continued. “My wife and I, we have a newborn baby. With such a high rise in carjackings, I feel like I can’t leave the house without my firearm and feel safe.”
Another Illinoisan, Wei Zheng, echoed Thrower’s concerns.
“After eight months I’m still waiting,” Zheng said, with respect to her FOID card application. “I feel really helpless and upset.”
Arlington Heights resident David Howley applied for a FOID in July of 2020. He, too, is still waiting.
“So as of today, that would be 191 days and 156 work days,” he said. “It’s gotten to the point of almost being ridiculous, the length of time.”
The long wait for permits is nothing new. As GunsAmerica reported in 2019, concealed carry applicants were waiting in excess of 140 days for permits.
Back in December, when asked about the situation, Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker shifted the blame to his predecessor Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Pritzker claimed the previous administration did not properly fund nor staff the department within the Illinois State Police (ISP) responsible for processing FOID and CCW applications.
“When I came into office in 2019, we stopped sweeping that fund. ISP Initiated a hiring plan. We certainly want to bring down that backlog,” he said.
Pritzker also said the demand for FOID cards shot up during 2020 due to the pandemic.
“It just exacerbated the backlog that already existed that ISP is attempting to whittle down,” Pritzker said.
While ISP plans on adding another seven analysts to their ranks this year, some state lawmakers believe that if things don’t change it might be time to put a pause on the system, at least as it relates to the issuance of FOID cards.
“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’s not from Illinois. So we are second class citizens in our own state,” said Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer (IL-110th). “We need to suspend the FOID system until we can get it under control.”
Mark Oliva, Director of Public Affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told GunsAmerica via email that the delays only impact the law-abiding.
“Rights delayed are rights denied and Illinois is proving this in a painful way to their law-abiding citizens,” said Oliva.
“The necessary resources haven’t been dedicated to ensure citizens can freely, and without delay, exercise their God-given rights. This demonstrates that these obstacles to law-abiding citizens exercising their rights only affects the law-abiding,” he continued. “There isn’t one criminal in Illinois that is troubled by these delays.”
Sadly, that leaves residents with a tough choice. Remain unarmed and hope that nothing bad happens or keep and bear arms in violation of state law.
As Mr. Thrower pointed out, it has the potential for a lose-lose outcome.
“God forbid something happen, or I decided to carry without having this card in my possession. Best believe they’re going to charge me with something,” he said. “It’s frustrating, it’s extremely frustrating.”