I thought renewal of my Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card in 2019 was tough, arriving only days before dove hunting began.
That was nothing compared to what is going on for the last year.
Between the start of the pandemic and lockdown a year ago, then social unrest in May and, recently, the Capitol insurrection, there’s been a staggering jump in FOID card applications (from 166,649 in 2017 to 445,945 as of November 2020).
With the pandemic and lockdown, FOID applications spiked from 13,629 in February to 36,762 in March. That spike was surpassed after the late May social unrest from 17,420 in May to 62,815 in June.
A similar spike occurred in Firearms Transfer Inquiry Program transactions, from 33,605 in February to 64,028 in March, only to be surpassed by a jump from 38,362 in May to 65,222 in June.
Processing time for FOID card applications, as of January, was averaging 121.74 days.
FOID cards were created in 1968: “To legally possess firearms or ammunition, Illinois residents must have a [FOID card], which is issued by the Illinois State Police to any qualified applicant.”
The time-consuming process for the ISP is weeding out felons, addicts, people with significant mental health issues and other factors.
As to renewals, the ISP did not have an average processing length, but Sgt. Christopher “Joey” Watson emailed, “There are approximately 138,000 renewal applications pending at this time. The pending renewals remain valid under emergency rules enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
An extension was made for FOID card renewals. But it’s advised to carry a copy of your application receipt.
Some waits for renewals are stunning.
Patrick Patel tweeted, “Applied for my FOID in June, just got it Monday. So I guess ahead of schedule for me.”
“My thing with the State is I renewed my Concealed Carry License [CCL] just prior to renewing my FOID card,” Leonard Ackman emailed. “I received my [CCL] in approximately three weeks. Nothing to this day on the FOID card after several emails. Phone calls don’t work as one can’t even leave a message. My account says `Under Review.’ They received my application and money on Dec. 10. 2019.”
ISP has hired more staff and upgraded its phone system, but the wait continues in many areas as does demand.
“I applied for a new FOID card on June 9th, 2020,” Curt Annis emailed. “I am still waiting. The [ISP] web page says the application is still under review. Covid related problems aside, don’t you think nine months is too long to wait?”
“I submitted my FOID renewal on March 3rd  and I am still waiting: `Under review,’ “ Jennifer Becker messaged.
“I passed the one-year mark for renewal already,” Christian Howe messaged. “At least I have the note that ISP mailed me that they received my renewal application.”
Terry Juricic Jr. applied for his FOID card in July and still doesn’t have it.
“I did get a letter to carry when hunting, but c’mon already,” he exclaimed.
“I applied for my FOID renewal, fall of 2019,” Alva Miller noted. “Even after a call to a state senator’s office, who, after investigating, assured me all was in order, I still do not have my renewal as of [Feb. 28]!”
“Today, Feb 27, makes exactly 14 months since I applied for a FOID renewal,” messaged Carol Blando Baker on Instagram.
In December, ISP Director Brendan Kelly said, “Our people believe in building a system that makes it hard for the bad guys and simple and safe for the good guys. The Illinois State Police will keep pushing hard, but frankly we will need authority from the legislature to untangle, streamline and integrate the aging patchwork of FOID, concealed carry, firearms transactions, and records checks if we are going to fulfill this mission.”