Illinois FOID card revocation enforcement problem continues to grow, authorities say

ByBarb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Tom Jones, Chuck Goudie, and John Garcia WLS logo
Friday, May 17, 2024
Illinois FOID card revocation enforcement problem continues to grow
The FOID card revocation enforcement process continues to be a growing problem, officials with the Cook County Sheriff and Illinois State Police say.

COOK COUNTY (WLS) -- There are tens of thousands of people in Illinois who may be armed, and now considered too dangerous, to keep their firearms.

They are gun owners whose firearm owner's identification cards, also called FOID cards, have been suspended for a variety of reasons, but the guns have not been confiscated by authorities.

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It's a problem the ABC7 I-Team has covered for years, and some authorities are now saying it's become worse across Illinois.

2019 I-TEAM REPORT | Dedicated law enforcement teams target Illinois' revoked gun license owners

"One of the reasons why you have a growing number of revocations of FOID cards is because we're getting a hell of a lot better at identifying those people that are threats to public safety," Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly said.

Kelly also said every day investigators intercept dangerous people with revoked FOID cards who are armed and shouldn't be.

"That means there are definitely more people that we need to go out there and make sure that their firearms have been safely recovered and put in the hands of someone who's authorized to have them or put them in the hands of law enforcement," Kelly said.

Sheriff's departments statewide and state troopers have spent years paying visits to non-compliant gun card holders, declared "clear and present" dangers to society or themselves.

Even though the teams have retrieved thousands of illicit FOID cards, and the guns of those no longer entitled to own them, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart on Thursday cited a new report claiming 84,000 people with revoked FOID cards, and possibly their guns, are still out there.

"The real world is law enforcement is wildly, wildly under-resourced, specifically in this area," Dart said. "And so as a result of that, what we have been pitching for over a year now down in Springfield is to get resources to the state police for them to disperse it."

Dart said he's asking lawmakers for about $10 million to be allocated to the state police to focus on confiscating guns.

The new report from Dart's office says there are 2.42 million FOID card holders in the state of Illinois. About 114,000 of them are banned from owning guns for reasons including felony charges, mental health issues, and domestic violence threats. About three quarters of them have not turned in or accounted for the weapon.

In 2019, 45-year-old Gary Martin's FOID card was suspended, but no one came to take his guns. He later killed six people, including himself, at the Henry Pratt facility in Aurora.

"Tragedies have already occurred because people have not gone and gotten gun's out of houses," Dart said.

FOID scofflaws are tracked and illicit guns recovered on a daily basis, but it's still an unceasing problem across Illinois and for state police it's a daily hazard.

"People who have made homicidal or suicidal threats, and clearly posing danger to the public, and I think everyone would agree as a person that should not have a firearm," Kelly said.

Sheriff Dart made similar complaints one year ago about inadequate or sluggish funding from Illinois State Police to counties for the pursuit of gun violators.

ISP director Kelly said his agency would support legislation that expands funding for FOID card investigations and the retrieval of illicit guns from anyone found to be a clear and present danger.