On Friday, we reported that more than 130,000 New Jersey residents have applied for government permission to exercise their Second Amendment rights so far this year, which is more than the number of gun permit applications in the state in 2018 and 2019 combined. Of course it’s taking months for local police departments in New Jersey to work through the backlog, and we’re seeing even bigger problems and longer delays in other states.
Right now Illinois State Police have a backlog of more than 140,000 FOID card applications, and there are also thousands of firearms waiting to be transferred to their new owners as well.
State Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville, said aside from calls about problems with unemployment, his office is flooded with frustrated calls from constituents upset their Second Amendment rights are being infringed upon. And it’s not just gun owners.
“I got an email from a gun shop owner just a few days ago, there was eight or 10 transactions on there that were 10 days-plus old,” Halbrook said. “That doesn’t really help in times like this. They think that they are intentionally being throttled back on those kinds of things.”
ISP said there’s about a seven business day average wait for the FTIP requests to be processed.
In order to buy a gun or ammunition in Illinois, the consumer must have a valid FOID card.
In the first seven months of the year, ISP says it’s processed more than 87,000 FOID cards. But Thursday, state police said there are still 143,000 requests pending that include new applications, renewals and other requests like address changes.
There’ve been serious issues with the Illinois State Police taking longer than the 30 days they’re allowed under state law to process the applications over the past few years, but the situation has now clearly spiraled out of control, and while I don’t know if the ISP are intentionally slowing down background checks for gun buyers (which you also have to go through when you purchase a gun at retail, even though you’ve already gone through a background check to obtain your FOID card), but I do know the status quo is completely unacceptable.
“These are our constitutional rights, our liberties, and they’re being infringed upon,” Halbrook said. “I don’t care how you shake it out, how you spin it, that’s what’s happening. ”
He said the failings have been going on long before COVID-19, and something has to be done.
“So, evidently we have a system that’s not working for the people, it’s broken, whatever you want to say and something has to be done, and it has to be done soon rather than later,” Halbrook said.
There are multiple lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the FOID card at the moment, and that’s probably going to have to be the avenue for change. The Democrat-controlled legislature seems unlikely to scrap the FOID system, even though it’s currently preventing who knows how many good people in bad neighborhoods from being able to purchase a firearm for self-defense because they’re stuck in limbo while the Illinois State Police take their sweet time processing their application.
In the meantime, the backlog of applications will likely grow longer, as will the time would-be gun owners are forced to wait before they can exercise a constitutionally-protected right. The Illinois State Police can fail to uphold their duty to process these applications within 30 days without suffering any kind of legal consequence, but the same can’t be said for any Illinois resident who decides to go ahead and keep a gun in their home while they wait for their FOID application to be approved. As Halbrook says, the system is broken, and something indeed needs to be done.