(The Center Square) – Illinois gun owners frustrated with delays are getting a reprieve.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic brought things to a virtual standstill, Illinois State Police officials said they were working through a backlog of tens of thousands of Firearm Owner Identification card renewal requests. Some applicants said they have waited months.
Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard Pearson said with the stay-at-home orders in place, getting requirements together to renew concealed carry permits was impossible.
“They just can’t get it done,” Pearson said. “People can’t take the classes to get it done, so it's a quagmire right now.”
On Thursday, the Illinois State Police filed emergency rules effective immediately that made expired cards valid during the disaster and for 12 months after.
Pearson, whose organization has sued the state on several fronts over the FOID card and various delays, said Thursday’s emergency rules provide needed relief.
“[FOID and CCL cards] will remain valid and that means they will be able to purchase firearms and ammunition,” Pearson said.
Before the emergency rules were filed Thursday, state police had said expired FOID cards were valid while the backlog of renewals was being processed, but some gun stores had said they wouldn’t accept the FOID card with an expired date on it.
“I believe that the state police are going to notify all dealers of [the emergency rules] so that the dealers won’t have any problems with it,” Pearson said.
The new rules also say CCL renewal applicants won’t have to file proof of three-hours of additional training through the emergency, but they will have to file them within a year of the end of the emergency order.
Pearson said the new rules could ease up the processing of first-time applicants.
“We’re glad that this is out there,” Pearson said. “There might be a couple of rough spots here and there but at least we’re on the way to at least getting the problem fixed for a while.”
Illinois State Police officials said their Firearms Services Bureau processed “an unprecedented number of firearms transfer inquiries in March” at more than 60,300, “the largest number recorded for one month.”
Just in the last two weeks of the month, officials said they’ve received 52,173 requests. There were 33,600 requests for all of February. In March 2019, there were nearly 44,700 requests.
The emergency rules as presented by Illinois State Police:
- FOID card holders, who submit their renewal application will remain valid during the duration of the state’s disaster proclamation and for a period of 12 months following the termination of the disaster, even if their renewal application is/was not submitted prior to expiration.
- CCL licensees, who submit their renewal application, will remain valid during the duration of the state’s disaster proclamation and for a period of 12 months following its termination, even if their CCL renewal application was not submitted prior to expiration.
- CCL licensees will not be required to immediately submit proof of three-hour training with their CCL renewal application.
- CCL licensees will need to submit proof of their three-hour renewal training within 12 months following the termination of the state’s disaster proclamation in order to maintain the validity of their CCL license.
“ISP will continue to enforce both FOID and CCL prohibitors,” a statement said. “FOID card holders who receive revocation notices shall return their FOID and Firearm Disposition Record form to the Illinois State Police. CCL holders who receive revocation notices shall return their CCL license to the Illinois State Police.”