U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- Back on Dec. 10, the Center Square reported that Illinois lawmakers had “diverted” almost $30 million from State Police funds to finance other state expenses, resulting in a slowdown of processing concealed carry permit and Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) card applications and renewals.
Now the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA), and two private citizens have filed suit in federal district court to require the state police to stop the delays.
The 16-page complaint was filed in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division federal court on behalf of Illinois residents Ryan A. Thomas and Goran Lazic. Plaintiffs are represented by attorneys David G. Sigale of Wheaton and Gregory Bedell of Chicago.
The lawsuit is known as Thomas, et.al. v. Illinois State Police, et. al.
Defendants are the Illinois State Police, ISP Director Brendan Kelly and Jessica Trame, Bureau Chief of the Illinois State Police Firearms Services Bureau, in their official capacities.
According to the complaint, $29,500,000 has been “swept or transferred” away from ISP accounts and into other accounts.
When it reported on the situation nearly two months ago, Center Square noted “about” 2.3 million Prairie State residents hold FOID cards, which are required for purchasing and owning firearms in the state. These cards cost $10 and remain valid for ten years.
The Illinois concealed carry license is considerably more expensive, at $150 and only is valid for five years. That money is divided between the ISP Firearm Services Fund ($120), the Mental Health Reporting Fund ($20) and the State Crime Lab ($10).
The SAF lawsuit alleges that the “swept” money was supposed to be repaid, but it was transferred “without an obligation to reimburse the funds at all.”
At the time the story was reported, ISRA Executive Director Richard Pearson called the transfer of funds “unconscionable.” He criticized the legislature and Gov. J.B. Pritzker for asking “honest gun owners to pay more money for a Constitutional Right when the money they are already paying is going to fund other programs and services.”
When the federal lawsuit was filed, Pearson noted, “The citizens of Illinois have been delayed getting their FOID cards for months. It is evident that these fund sweeps have caused these delays.”
SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb asserted, “ISP processing of FOID and concealed carry applications has slowed to a crawl, allowing paperwork to languish. That’s not just poor performance, it’s pathetic.”
This allegation appears on Page 2 of the complaint and explains the situation bluntly:
“The effect of this has been a systematic slowdown and sometimes halt of processing of applications and appeals of the FOID Card Act and FCCA. Applicants and appellants spend days on the phone attempting to reach someone at the ISP with no success. In the unlikely event that a person answers, the applicant/appellant is usually told only that their case is under review.”
Plaintiffs Thomas and Lazic are just two Illinois citizens who have been waiting for action. According to the lawsuit, Thomas has been fighting the system for nearly three years. He had previously held a FOID card and carry license, but lost them when he moved out of state for a while. Since his return, to be closer to his children, the state has been dragging its feet to restore his FOID and carry license. Lazic had a FOID and CCL appeal pending since 2017 when a charge against him was dismissed and later expunged, the complaint said.
As noted in the complaint on page 3, “the laws governing the licensing of firearm possession and concealed carry in Illinois have resulted in a system that, for some, result 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.”
There is now an online petition at Change.org demanding an audit of the ISP Firearms Services Fund. The petition, started by Dolores Robinson, states:
“It has come to light that money meant for the FOID (Firearm Owners Identification) and Concealed & Carry state police firearms fund has not been used for the intended purposes. In fact, it has barely been touched, yet the IL General Assembly is attempting to pass more laws that will raise costs and deposit more money into this fund. With only a fraction of the money being used for FOID and concealed & carry services, one must wonder where all of that surplus money is going (or why it’s just sitting there).
“Illinois is currently under the microscope of federal authorities due to rampant corruption, and when millions of dollars set aside for a specific fund lapse, it is something that needs to be looked at. There is currently a lawsuit that is questioning the constitutionality of the FOID card (having to pay to exercise a right, which is now being appealed by the plaintiff after a ruling against them), and with these findings, it appears that the FOID and concealed carry licensing system is more of a cash grab to fund other projects. We demand an independent party audit of the State Police Firearms Services Fund. The corruption in this state at the expense of the taxpayer and those exercising a right has to stop!”
MEANWHILE, an appeal in a case challenging the Illinois Firearm Concealed Carry Act filed by SAF, Illinois Carry and ISRA, with nine individual plaintiffs was submitted in October to the U.S. Supreme Court for review. Attorneys general from 18 states have joined an amicus brief supporting this case, known as Culp v. Raoul. Plaintiffs in this case are also represented by attorney Sigale.
This case challenges the state’s refusal to allow qualified citizens from other states to apply for an Illinois concealed carry license. It asks the high court to answer this question: “Whether the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms requires that the State of Illinois allow qualified non-residents to apply for an Illinois concealed carry license.”
While the Supreme Court does not take every case submitted for review, with a current court majority that many believe is friendlier to Second Amendment cases, there is always the potential for the high court to take this and other such cases. It is long past time for the court to add clarification to what is protected by the Second Amendment, and what may be subject to regulation, regarding firearms, gun rights activists contend.
The petition for certiorari was filed in October.
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