CHICAGO (WLS) -- The ABC7 I-Team has been tracking delays of firearm credentials--for more than a year now. Now, the state of Illinois has a plan to fix the problem.
The director of Illinois State Police said the delays are completely unacceptable. He believes the bill that was just signed by Gov. JB Pritzker Monday will be a game-change in helping the state dig out of this backlog.
Anthony of Downers Grove said he applied for his concealed carry license over a year ago on April 21, 2020. He's among more than 100 people the ABC 7 I-Team has heard from who said they've been waiting on their FOID card or concealed carry license for months.
Anthony said he feels the Illinois State Police, the department that oversees firearm credentials, has completely ignored him.
"They're not completing applications. They're not responding to emails. They're not responding to phone calls. What are they doing?" he said.
The ABC 7 I-Team took that question to the man in charge of the ISP, Director Brendan Kelly.
CHATMAN: Director Kelly, we have heard from more than 100 people now who said they still haven't received their FOID card. They still haven't received their CCL card. We've even heard from people who've said they've waited more than a year and the complaints continue to roll in. So, what exactly is going on with Illinois State Police and the firearm credentials?
KELLY:These delays are absolutely unacceptable.
Kelly said from the year 2010 to date, the number of FOID card applications has doubled from about 1.2 million to 2.2 million. And during that decade, there was very little investment in ISP's systems. He said funding that was meant for ISP went elsewhere.
"And when you had a huge explosion in FOID applications during civil unrest, during the pandemic, for a variety of reasons, people applying for FOID card, in growing numbers that we've never seen before, the system frankly could not handle that pressure," Kelly said.
House Bill 562 will modernize the firearm credential system, which hasn't been updated in over 50 years.
"This bill is the most comprehensive reform to our state's firearms laws in over a generation," Gov. JB Pritzker said.
The new law will allow the Illinois State Police to create an electronic card to streamline the FOID card system, creating a combined FOID and concealed carry license that can be instantly updated. It also gives people the option to submit their fingerprints for automatic renewal.
CHATMAN: Some critics say we shouldn't even have a FOID card in Illinois. They think it is pointless. What is your response to that?
KELLY: We've seen people go through the background check process in other states. They get through some of the loopholes that are there. This is an additional layer that we know is stopping people who are not appropriately purchasing firearms and they're not safe to have firearms every day.
In an effort to enhance public safety, House Bill 562 also requires ISP to remove guns from people with revoked FOID cards, expands background checks to all gun sales in Illinois, and creates a stolen gun database and requires ISP to continuously monitor state and federal databases for prohibited gun buyers. It also gives all Illinois law enforcement agencies access to the FOID status of any individual, ensuring the state is actively monitoring safety threats.
ISP said expired FOID card and concealed carry licenses will remain valid until December 31, 2021 under the state's disaster declaration, as long as you submit your renewal application before it expires.
But the I-Team has heard from several people who said some gun shops are refusing to honor their expired credentials. It's yet another reason why people want the state to step things up and issue their renewals in a timely manner.
Kelly said the new law should do just that.
"Our goal has been and continues to be to make sure it is easier for the good guys and hard for the bad guys and we're making progress towards that mission," Kelly said.
House Bill 562 takes effect January 1, 2022. Universal background checks will take effect January 1, 2024.
For more information on FOID or concealed carry license in Illinois, visit www.ispfsb.com/Public/FAQ.aspx.