Gun groups sue Illinois over delayed gun ID cards, licenses

Two gun rights groups are suing the Illinois State Police for not promptly renewing firearm owners' identification cards.

The Illinois State Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation filed the lawsuit last week in federal court on behalf of Ryan Thomas and Goran Lazic, who said they’ve been waiting for their identification cards and concealed carry licenses since 2017.

The groups said the state police transferred nearly $30 million from funds used for the administration of the cards, background checks and concealed carry licenses into other accounts, which has caused the application and appeals process to slow and come to a halt.

Attorney David Sigale said he tried working with the police to move along the process, but he was left with no other option but to sue.

“We’re just going to sit on your license application, your FOID appeal, your renewal, we’re just going to sit on it and passively deny people’s rights, and that’s what’s happening here,” Sigale said.

But ISP said in a statement that it does not have the authority to sweep funds.

“In 2015 and 2018, $13.2 million was swept from the Firearms Service Fund into the general fund during the budget crisis,” ISP said. “Under the current fiscal year, funds have not been swept, allowing the Firearms Services Bureau to start filling 17 analyst vacancies, procure technology to offer better customer service and to begin building a new Appeals Bureau.”

The agency also has no deadline to respond to appeals and has been known to take months or years to issue a decision, according to the documents.

In a statement, Illinois State Police spokeswoman Beth Hundsdorfer said that last year, 90 percent of applicants saw their paperwork processed in less than 30 days. She said it took an average of 65 days to renew a FOID card in 2019.

Thomas lost his licenses when he moved out of state, and Lazic’s licenses were taken away after he was arrested for domestic battery. The charges were later dropped and the arrest was expunged.

Thomas and Lazic said they usually carry a handgun for self-defense but do not anymore because they fear prosecution for possessing a firearm without a license.