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Another Illinois lawmaker wants the state’s Firearm Owners Identification card requirement to become a thing of the past.
State Rep. Andrew Chesney, R-Freeport, has filed a bill to eliminate the law that forces residents to obtain a FOID card to legally possess or purchase guns or ammunition. State representative, Republican Amy Elik of Fosterburg, also supports doing away with the FOID card.
“My proposal is we completely gut the program,” Chesney said. “It's not effective. It's the number one call I get to my district office, even more than unemployment. It's just an unnecessary hurdle for anybody that wants to lawfully possess firearms.”
Among other complaints, Chesney points to frustration over a massive backlog of applications with the Illinois State Police. He says the delays are affecting residents in every district across the state and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle should pay attention.
“It's impacting people of color,” Chesney said. “It's impacting the poor and the working poor. You have a system that's antiquated and difficult and it's not designed in a user- friendly way that gives access to everybody.”
Additionally, he says the antiquated system has resulted in out-of-date information being used by officials and has led to errors like the 2019 arrest of state Rep. Curtis Tarver, D- Chicago.
“What this is doing is taking and making what would otherwise be law-abiding citizens and turning them into misdemeanor criminals,” Chesney said. “We can't stand for that. That's not the way we treat our citizens.”
Tarver was arrested in November 2019 and charged with failing to surrender a concealed carry license. According to reports, officers found him with a gun during a traffic stop. Tarver explained that a renewal of his FOID card was not yet reflected in Chicago Police Department records, leading officers to believe his concealed carry license was invalid. The charges later were dropped.
Chesney says the incident will be featured in his appeal to new House Speaker Chris Welch for a vote on his proposal. He’s encouraged that a conversation could begin on the matter.
“This program, and this dysfunction, has put even people in his caucus, in jail, wrongfully in jail, because of these mix-ups,” Chesney said.
Illinois’s FOID card requirement has been in effect since 1968. Similar legislation introduced in previous years has not seen a vote by the full House.
“There's no reason it can't be fixed,” Chesney said. “The only reason it won't be fixed is because they're making it political, which it shouldn't be political. Forty-six states don't even do this. There’s no reason it can't be done in Illinois.”
Hawaii, New Jersey, and Massachusetts are the other three states with a similar law on the books.
If the FOID requirement were to be eliminated, federal waiting periods and background checks for firearm purchasers still would be in place.