A three-judge panel denied a request from a gun-rights group for an emergency suspension of Illinois’ Firearm Owners' Identification card law.
The Fourth District Appellate Court ruled Tuesday that Guns Save Life, an Illinois-based organization that advocates for Second Amendment rights, didn’t prove the need for a temporary stay on the state’s FOID card program, but did appear to approve of other aspects of the challenge.
In a complaint filed against Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly in May, Guns Save Life said that the state’s fee to apply for or renew a FOID card “places a tax upon the free exercise of a constitutional right and is violative of the Second Amendment as well as the Fourteenth Amendment.”
The court denied the request to have the program suspended until the case is settled. It said upending the long-standing law would hurt the state, regardless of the rights of the plaintiffs.
“Although maintaining the status quo could arguably further the irreparable injury to plaintiff’s members, granting the preliminary injunction could similarly cause irreparable injury to the State of Illinois because it would no longer have the means to identify people unqualified to possess firearms or ammunition, and it has no alternative means to do so. In effect, this would upset the status quo by nullifying a statute that has been in effect since 1968,” the court wrote in the ruling.
The ruling was disappointing but understandable, Guns Save Life Executive Director John Boch said.
“I kind of understand their reluctance to overturn a long-standing law on a preliminary injunction,” he said. “On the other hand, constitutionally, the FOID Act is unconstitutional.”
Boch likened the FOID card cost to a poll tax, using a fee to deny a constitutional right.
In the appellate ruling against the injunction, the three-judge panel appeared to acknowledge an angle of the state’s FOID Act may contain a constitutional flaw.
The judges noted that the plaintiffs in the case, Harold Meyer and an unnamed U.S. Marine veteran, had their firearms confiscated due to provisions in the state’s FOID Act.
The judges’ ruling said the two men were harmed by two separate incidents “that would not exist if, as plaintiff alleges, the FOID Act was not enforced by defendants.”
Boch anticipated Guns Save Life would abandon the request for an injunction and pursue the case in circuit court.
The Illinois Supreme Court heard oral arguments last month in another lawsuit challenging the FOID Act.