FILE - guns, Illinois

An assortment of firearms are seen for sale at Capitol City Arms Supply in Springfield in 2013.

(The Center Square) – The Illinois State Rifle Association says Illinois State Police are operating outside the boundaries of the law and violating people's rights with continued delays in processing gun owner applications.

For more than a year, backlogs of processing applications for Illinois Firearm Owner Identification cards and Concealed Carry Licenses persists.

The most recent data through December from Illinois State Police has the average wait time for new FOID cards at 122.5 days and about the same for CCL applicants that provide fingerprints. It’s supposed to be 30 days for FOID and 90 days for CCL.

ISP said as of Jan. 19, there were 175,751 new FOID applications and 25,518 CCL backlogged. 

Illinois State Police say emergency rules allow for FOID cards and CCLs to be valid while the backlog is processed.

“The emergency rule providing for the 18-month extension of FOID card and CCL renewals went into effect on September 3, 2020, replacing the previous 12-month extension,” ISP said on its website. “The ISP Firearms Services Bureau encourages FOID cardholders and CCL holders to keep a copy of their confirmation from their submitted renewal application as additional verification of compliance."

Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard Pearson said that’s not enough.

“You can’t do anything out of state with those certificates,” Pearson said. “You can’t travel with a concealed carry permit with a certificate.”

Individuals’ Second Amendment rights are being hurt by the Pritzker administration’s continued delays, Pearson said.

“I think they’re operating outside the law, that’s pretty obvious,” Pearson said. “It’s a real problem for everybody concerned. So I think they want to solve this problem. We want to solve this problem. So we have to move forward some way or another.”

Pearson said there aren’t many other remedies other than suing the state. Several lawsuits are pending.

In one lawsuit filed in federal court in July 2020, plaintiffs sued over the delays. They’ve since requested an injunction. While the state has motioned for some plaintiffs to be removed from the case citing they’ve received their cards, Pearson said other impacted gun owners have signed on.

“We are seeing some people file interventions on our lawsuit which means ‘this same thing happened to me,’ and so they are welcome to do that,” Pearson said.

Four plaintiffs have been terminated from the case while four remain. Six others have filed as intervenor plaintiffs.

Court records in the case in the Northern District of Illinois show Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul requesting leave from the court to file a 33-page response to the plaintiff’s preliminary injunction. It’s unclear when that filing is due to the courts.

Another record in the case has plaintiffs' response to the state’s motion to dismiss due Feb. 5 with the state to respond by Feb. 19.

Staff Reporter

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience and hosts the WMAY Morning Newsfeed out of Springfield.