Some Illinois gun owners vexed trying to renew state firearm cards

ByChuck Goudie and Ross Weidner via WLS logo
Tuesday, November 12, 2019
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FOID card holders report difficulties in having their new and renewal applications processed by Illinois state police.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois state police officials on Monday confirmed to the ABC7 I-Team that they were trying to repair "longstanding (sic) issues surrounding the Call Center" that helps applicants obtain new or renewed Firearm Owners Identification cards.

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

Some gun owners have said that they can't access state websites to fully complete applications for a FOID renewal, or reach human beings to report problems.

With the Illinois deer hunting season set to open a week from Friday, time is running short for some gun owners in need of a current and valid FOID card.

There are nearly 2.3 million FOID card holders in Illinois and the I-Team has received gun-owner reports of problems in processing from website issues to state phones going dead.

Illinois state police officials say they have a plan to upgrade FOID technology in 2020 that centers on implementation of a "Voice over Internet Protocol, which is a call center solution that will allow for new features like automated interactions and call backs. We are committed to meeting the needs of those we serve and will continue to explore ways to better ensure we are as responsive as possible."

VoIP - Voice over Internet Protocol - will let FOID applicants use an automated process, according to state police sources. That new technology would allow completion of an application without having to speak to a live agent. The plan calls for an interactive element that will work in conjunction with existing ISP systems and agents to populate their computer with information ahead of receiving a caller, "to better and more quickly assist them" according to officials.

The aim will be to potentially resolve problems "independent an agent. It also allows for a callback feature so a person would not need to remain on the line."

Currently, 25,000 FOID applications are received by state police each month-and ISP officials say more than 250,000 have been processed so far this year.

State police say applicants may check their current status on the ISP website. However, even there applicants are greeted with a "System Alert" box when they go to check in. In upper case, applicants are warned: "DO NOT ATTEMPT WITH A SMART PHONE OR TABLET." And then, "Errors from mobile interface can result in application denial."

Officials on Monday promised that the new year of 2020 would bring changes to a system that has frustrated some Illinois gun owners for a long time.