Push to modernize FOID process to improve backlog in Illinois

It’s been a busy couple years for gun stores in Illinois, and sales continue to soar. 

But now, some state lawmakers and the Illinois State Police are taking aim at the huge backlog in processing firearm owner identification cards, also known as FOID cards.

They’re also looking to tighten up some loopholes.

"Other than unemployment issues, FOID issues are the biggest calls I get in my office," said State Senator Dave Koehler, a Democrat from Peoria. 

Koehler joined a group of state lawmakers and the director of the Illinois State Police in Springfield on Wednesday to endorse legislation that would change the process of applying or renewing a FOID card. 

There’s been an explosion in gun ownership in Illinois over the past few years, and FOID card applications have nearly doubled since 2017.

"And then came 2020," said Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly. "With the social tensions caused by civil unrest and global pandemic, the firearm services bureau was confronted by a massive increase across all categories in their workloads."


Under the law, state police are supposed to process a FOID card application in about 30 days. But now, it’s taking months and, in some cases, even a year to get a FOID card.

The proposed legislation would change the timing requirements to reduce the number of renewal applications.  

It would also include voluntary fingerprinting to run through the FBI database and a "red flag portal" to report applicants with potential problems.

"I think it’s been acknowledged there are multiple gaps in all these systems at the state and federal level, where there are people who are prohibited from owning a firearm who are still making it through the system," Kelly said. 

This is likely to be opposed by gun rights organizations.

Some firearm owners outside a Melrose Park gun shop said they would rather see the state hire more employees to process the backlog of applications.