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USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- For the second time this year, the Second Amendment Foundation and Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) have joined forces in a federal lawsuit against the Illinois State Police over firearms issues, this time asking the court to force the agency to comply with state law on delivering Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) cards within the state-required 30-day period.
The lawsuit is known as Bradley v. Kelly. It was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.
“The law requires that the Illinois State Police either approve or deny a FOID card application within 30 days,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “But ISP has been dragging its feet, leaving applicants in limbo for months. Sometimes the agency doesn’t act for as long as 60 or even 90 days. You can bet that if a private citizen had to comply with a legal requirement within 30 days, he or she would be in big trouble for not meeting that deadline.”
Back in January, SAF and ISRA teamed up to sue the State Police for allowing Firearm Owner Identification Card and Concealed Carry applications to languish for interminable periods, thus violating the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Illinois citizens.
According to a story published last December at The Center Square, “Illinois lawmakers took funds meant to help the Illinois State Police facilitate gun registrations, concealed-carry licensing and other services and used the money for other purposes without paying it back.”
Follow the Money
The problem was discovered during an investigation by State Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) and the ISRA “with the aid of state researchers,” according to report. At least $29.5 million had been moved to other funds over the previous five state budgets.
“A memo from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability…showed more than $13 million swept from the State Police Firearm Services Fund in fiscal years 2015 through 2019,” the story revealed. “With another fund having been raided of $15 million, lawmakers took $28.5 million in fees paid for by the state’s more than 2 million Firearm Owners' Identification cardholders. The money was to have gone to the State Police Firearms Services Fund, the State Police Operations Assistance Fund, and the State Police Services Fund away from these funds and into other accounts.”
As noted in the lawsuit, “That money was to be used for three purposes: background checks for firearm-related services, concealed carry licensing, and administration of the FOID Card Act.”
SAF and ISRA moved on behalf of four private citizens who have been waiting for an inordinate amount of time for their FOID cards. AKA government permisions slips to excerisise a civil right.
They are represented by attorneys David G. Sigale of Wheaton, Ill., Gregory A. Bedell of Chicago, and Jacob Huebert of Phoenix, Ariz. The case is supported by the Goldwater Institute.
“We’ve been looking at this problem for a long time, gathering information for filing this lawsuit, and that day has finally come,” said Richard Pearson, ISRA executive director.
Gottlieb said the lawsuit was necessitated by a high volume of requests for FOID cards.
“In Illinois, the ability to exercise one’s Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is conditioned on first obtaining a Firearm Owners Identification (“FOID”) card…Without a FOID card, a person may not even possess a firearm, much less purchase one; violation constitutes a Class A misdemeanor; a repeated offense is a Class 4 felony,” the 17-page complaint says.
Later in the complaint, it notes, “And the consequences for delay are neither abstract nor a mere inconvenience; they are a matter of life and death. Sadly, in similar situations, where the government bureaucracy legislatively empowered to act as a Second Amendment gatekeeper has dithered in processing applications, there have been fatal results.”
The lawsuit refers to the slaying of New Jersey resident Carol Bowne, who was murdered by an ex-boyfriend while she waited for weeks while the police chief in Berlin Township essentially sat on her application to purchase a firearm for protection in her home. Bowne was brutally stabbed to death in her own driveway one day after she had inquired about the delay in her permit approval. That case made national headlines.
While law enforcement agencies in several states, including Oregon and Washington, have “suspended” the processing of new applications for concealed carry licenses—using the COVID-19 outbreak as an excuse—in Illinois the state police have apparently not used available funds to hire staff and make the FOID card process run smoother and quicker.
“Illinois residents expect efficiency, not excuses, and they haven’t been getting it,” Gottlieb said.
According to Kevin Starrett at the Oregon Firearms Federation (OFF), “almost all” Beaver State law enforcement agencies used the coronavirus outbreak to shut down the application process.
“Many have started again,” he told AmmoLand News via email, “but some stopped all new apps and renewals.”
Starrett said after he complained to agencies because the renewals were done online, they finally started processing renewals but only started accepting new applications on July 6th, 2020.
SAF and ISRA also joined forces in the landmark 2010 Supreme Court case of McDonald v. City of Chicago, which nullified that city’s decades-old handgun prohibition.
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