Illinois Accused of Pulling Funds for Gun License Program

Handguns are displayed at the Smith & Wesson booth at the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

CHICAGO (CN) – Illinois violates residents’ Second Amendment rights by starving its Firearm Owners ID card program of the funds it needs to operate, gun-rights groups claim in court.

The Illinois State Rifle Association, Second Amendment Foundation and two men currently in the application process for Illinois Firearm Owner ID cards sued the state police force in Chicago federal court Friday.

A FOID card is required to legally possess or purchase a firearm or ammunition in Illinois.

Both Ryan Thomas and Goran Lazic were previously approved to hold FOID cards, but lost them in 2017 and have been unable to complete the process to get them back. Thomas lost his original card when he moved out of state, and Lazic has been trying to get his reinstated since the dismissal and expungement of a charge against him.

The delay in the administration of FOID cards has allegedly been caused, in part, by the transfer of $29.5 million away from the state police funds dedicated to administering the program and running background checks to other state government accounts.

“The effect of this has been a systematic slowdown and sometimes halt of processing of applications and appeals of the FOID Card Act.  Applicants and appellants spend days on the phone attempting to reach someone at the [Illinois State Police] with no success.  In the unlikely event that a person answers, the applicant/appellant is usually told only that their case is under review,” the complaint states.

When a FOID application is complex, involving a prior revocation for example, applicants “quickly find their appeals sucked into a black hole from which escape comes, if at all, with an interminable wait,” according to the lawsuit.

There is no legal deadline by which the state must respond to a FOID appeal, and years-long waits are not uncommon, the complaint states.

Without stating it directly, the lawsuit implies that Illinois has an anti-gun bias that has led to the alleged infringement on residents’ Second Amendment rights.

“Illinois became the last state in America to allow the public carry of firearms for self-defense purposes,” following a 2012 federal appeals court decision, the lawsuit states.

“However, the laws governing the licensing of firearm possession and concealed carry in Illinois have resulted in a system that, for some, result [sic] in a permanent denial of that right. This is due to a system that is extremely quick to deny or revoke persons’ rights, and extremely slow in acknowledging or restoring them,” it continues.

Illinois has frequently been accused by pro-gun groups of using administrative tactics to burden Second Amendment rights.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction requiring the state to issue Thomas and Lazic FOID cards, plus monetary damages for the deprivation of their Second Amendment rights.

The plaintiffs are represented by David Sigale in Wheaton, Illinois, and Gregory Bedell with Knabe &Bedell in Chicago.

The Illinois State Police did not immediately respond Friday to a request for comment.

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