Gun group files federal lawsuit to end FOID delays

Gun group files federal lawsuit to end FOID delays

ILLINOIS (IRN) — The future of Illinois’ Firearm Owners Identification card could be in jeopardy.

D’Andre Bradley, a Marine living in Chicago Heights, is the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.

At issue is the Illinois State Police’s long delays in issuing FOID Cards. The Illinois State Police is named as the defendant in the case.

“There’s this ridiculous amount of time that we have to wait for our FOIDs,” Bradley said Tuesday. “The best thing to do is to go forward with a lawsuit and move on from there.”

Bradley said he has no legal or mental issues that would disqualify him for gun ownership under Illinois laws.

State law requires FOID cards to be issued or denied within 30 days, but Bradley and others have said delays have gone on months longer. Illinois is one of 10 states that require a permit to buy at least some firearms, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

When asked about the delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bradley said the Second Amendment should be protected just as other Constitutional rights.

“Just because there’s an epidemic doesn’t mean your rights disappear,” he said.

The complaint, filed with help from the nonprofit Goldwater Institute, asks the state to either issue FOID cards without delay or abolish the program entirely.

Illinois has seen an increase in firearm purchases. FBI data shows more than 42,000 Illinoisans had requested background checks run in order to purchase a firearm in just the first half of June, representing a 500 percent increase from the same time the year prior.

The suit is the latest in a handful of legal battles over FOID delays that predate the pandemic.

“We’ve been looking at this problem for a long time, gathering information for filing this lawsuit, and that day has finally come,” Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard Pearson said. “These delays have gone on long enough. We had hoped to avoid litigation, but at this moment, we have no choice.”

Illinois State Police officials said underfunding and an increase in firearm transactions contributed to the delays.

“The Illinois State Police agree FOID applications should be processed quickly and within the statutory guidelines,” ISP Spokeswoman Beth Hundsdorfer said. “Financial instability brought on by the lack of a budget in the prior administration greatly impacted the processing of FOID applications by the Firearm Services Bureau. Gov. Pritzker’s budget and the fiscal assurance it brings will allow the ISP to continue efforts to hire at least 32 additional analysts and invest in technology upgrades. This year alone, FSB processed 65,969 new FOID applications.”

Hundsdorfer said the agency is focused on solutions.

“Nonetheless, with an increase in applications and firearms purchases during the pandemic and current events – 63,823 FOID applications and 65,222 FTIP applications just last month – broader legislative remedies to streamline and modernize the FOID process will be necessary to meet statutory timelines,” she said. “We look forward to working with all interested parties and members of the general assembly to reach those solutions.”

A state lawmaker and the Illinois State Rifle Association sued the Illinois State Police in February, alleging the state swept funds meant to facilitate issuing FOID cards.

At the time, Illinois State Police said: “In 2015 and 2018, $13.2 million was swept from the Firearms Service Fund into the general fund during the budget crisis,” and that the agency was no longer sweeping funds from the accounts in question.
Lawmakers in Illinois frequently use fund sweeps to balance the state’s budget or to pay for other spending programs.

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