Good News Out Of Illinois

The Illinois Senate today passed SB 836 which contains improvements in the FOID Card Act, the Concealed Carry Act, and the Criminal Code. The vote was 43 yea, 8 nay, and 5 not voting. Included in the nay votes was perennial gun prohibitionist Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge). This is not surprising in that he had been the Executive Director of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence (sic) prior to being elected to the Illinois Senate.

The bill had passed the Illinois House on Saturday. The vote there was 84 yea, 23 nay, and 3 not voting. The bill now goes to Gov. Bruce Rauner (R-IL) for his signature. It is expected that he will sign this bill.

The full text of the bill is here. The Illinois State Rifle Association emailed this summary of the main provisions of the bill this evening. They along with Illinois Carry and other gun rights groups in Illinois fought hard for this bill.

After months of working with the Illinois General Assembly on improvements to the Firearms Concealed Carry Act, FOID Act and Criminal Code, SB 836 passed the Illinois Senate with a vote of 43 Yes, 8 No and 5 Present. It is on the way to the Governor’s desk.

SB 836 contains the following changes:

Firearms Concealed Carry Act:

1. Limits the waiver of privacy rights regarding the concealed carry application to only those records pertinent to obtaining a concealed carry license.

2. Clarifies that if a concealed carry licensee presents their ICCL during a law enforcement investigative stop that it is presumed they are carrying a firearm.

3. Clarifies the definition of a “mental disability” as it pertains to persons seeking a concealed carry license.

4. Eliminates the requirement that a licensee unload his or her firearm when storing or retrieving a firearm from the trunk of their vehicle.

5. Provides that Emergency Service personnel may ask anyone lawfully carrying a firearm to secure the firearm for the duration of the contact.

6. Changes mental health reporting requirements.


7. Allows the use of a concealed carry license when purchasing firearms or ammunition.

8. Allows concealed carry licensees to possess firearms and ammunition without being in physical possession of their FOID card.

9. Changes the FOID Act to ensure that non-resident competitors may purchase firearms and ammunition at events held at the World Shooting Complex.

Criminal Code:

10. Eliminates a contradiction between Concealed Carry Act and the criminal definition of unlawful use of weapon.

Huge Backlog On FOID Card Processing In Illinois

So many Illinois residents have applied for a Firearm Owner’s ID Card (FOID) since December that it has swamped the system according to a report by CBS Chicago. The Illinois State Police report that they have a backlog of over 70,000 applications for the card. This backlog has created extraordinary wait times to receive the card. The FOID card is required to purchase both firearms and ammunition in the State of Illinois.

People applying for Illinois Firearm Owner’s Identification cards are waiting more than 60 days as the State Police experience one of its busiest months ever processing applications, spokeswoman Monique Bond said Tuesday.

More than 70,000 FOID card applications have been received in March, Bond said, putting it on track to be the record month so far for the program.

According to stats from the State Police website, they received 31,078 applications in December 2012, 61,172 in January 2013, and 56,078 in February 2013. To put this perspective, the January figure is their all time high and the December and February figures are the record numbers for that month of the year. When the March applications are added to the January and February applications, the number of applications received in the first quarter of the year will be more than 50% of what was received in 2012.

430 ILCS 65 Section 5 states:

The Department of State Police shall either approve or deny all applications within 30 days from the date they are received, and every applicant found qualified pursuant to Section 8 of this Act by the Department shall be entitled to a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card upon the payment of a $10 fee.

Nothing in the statute says anything about exceptions for processing larger than normal numbers of applications.

Gun store owners are disputing the amount of time that the Illinois State Police say that people are actually waiting.

However, the state police’s contention that applicants have to wait 64 days for a card is disputed by Greg Tropino Sr., president of GAT Guns in East Dundee. He told The (Elgin) Courier-News that he is hearing from his customers that it is taking them 10 to 15 weeks to receive a FOID card that gun owners in Illinois are required to have.

Mr. Tropino goes on to suggest that when people hear that items will be banned that they rush to buy them before that happens.

As the quote attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. states, “A right delayed is a right denied.”

The Ranks Of Gun Owners Swelled On Black Friday In Illinois

While Illinois may be the only state that does not have some form of concealed carry, it was not left out of the rise in sales of firearms on Black Friday. According to WLS-TV in Chicago, the Illinois State Police reported a 42% increase in the number of applications for Firearms Owner ID (FOID) cards on Black Friday compared to last year. Almost 2,900 new applications were received for FOID cards this year. Bear in mind that these are NEW (would-be) gun owners because once you have a FOID card it covers all your guns and is good for 10 years.

However, and I think the reporter for WLS-TV doesn’t quite get Illinois firearms law, an application for a FOID card is not approved immediately. The State Police have up to 30 days to approve it and return it to you. Until you have a valid FOID card in hand, you can’t buy a firearm, ammunition, or a Taser.

This is from an email this evening from Thirdpower of Days of Our Trailers blog:

You can apply for your FOID through most FFL’s if they’re smart. It normally takes 3-4 weeks to get it through the ISP so while you could ‘purchase’ your firearm by perhaps putting down a down payment, you cannot actually fill out the 4473/NICS check until you have the FOID in your possession. Then there’s a 24hr waiting period for long guns and 72 hour for handguns.

We will have to wait until the NICS stats are out to get a better idea of just how much actual gun sales rose in Illinois during this period. Nonetheless, this many applications for FOID cards means another 2,900 gun owners are added to the rolls of gunowners in the Land of Lincoln. And THAT is a good thing.

Note: A big thanks to Kurt Hofmann, the St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner, and Thirdpower for answering my questions so quickly about Illinois gun law and FOID cards. I really appreciate their help!

Thirdpower put together this primer on Illinois gun laws a couple of years ago. It is a good starting place.

FOID Card Release TRO Extended

As reported earlier in the month, the Illinois State Rifle Association went to court to prevent the release of FOID card holders names by the Illinois State Police. At the time they were granted a temporary restraining order preventing the release of that information. In a hearing held today, ISRA was able to get a court order extending the TRO “until further order of the court.”

The lawsuit filed on behalf of ISRA and its members on March 10, 2011, is moving forward with excellent results. After Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced that her office believes that release of FOID information to the public is proper under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, the ISRA filed suit in Peoria (10th Judicial District) seeking a temporary restraining order preventing the release of names of FOID holders.

As previously reported, the temporary restraining order (TRO) was granted by judge Scott Shore, who then scheduled a status hearing for March 15th to set a date set for hearing arguments regarding the issuance of a preliminary injunction, since the TRO normally expires in ten days.

Prior to his court appearance on behalf of ISRA and the member plaintiffs, attorney Stanley Tucker was notified of a letter sent to Attorney General Lisa Madigan that was signed by 12 (a majority) of the Illinois congressional delegation. The non-partisan letter requested Lisa Madigan to rescind an attorney general directive issued to the Illinois State Police that sided with the FOIA request made by the Associated Press’ representative that the ISP release the names of FOID holders.

The latest court order extended the TRO indefinitely, until further order of court, and another “status” hearing was scheduled for April 14th. The defendants may file pleadings requesting additional relief, but for now the privacy of law-abiding firearm owners and the interest of public safety remain protected.

Release Of FOID Card Holders Names On Hold

This was sent out about an hour ago by the Illinois State Rifle Association which was challenging the release of FOID card holders names to the AP.


PEORIA, IL – – The following was released today by the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA):

The ISRA is pleased to announce that it has secured a temporary restraining order against the release of personal information belonging to persons holding Illinois Firearm Owner Identification cards (FOID). The ISRA and four additional plaintiffs filed for the temporary restraining order after Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced that her office believes that release of FOID information to the public is proper under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. The ISRA is very concerned that public release of personal information from the FOID database will jeopardize the safety of law-abiding firearm owners.

The temporary restraining order was granted by judge Scott Shore of the 10th Judicial District, Peoria County. Judge Shore has scheduled a status call for March 15th, at which time a date will be set for hearing arguments regarding the issuance of a preliminary injunction. With the temporary order in effect, your FOID information is safe, for now.

“Law-abiding Illinois firearm owners can breathe a little easier today,” commented ISRA Executive Director Richard Pearson. “Judge Shore’s order will prevent the Illinois State Police from releasing personal information on FOID holders to news organizations, gun control groups, gangs, and other criminals”.

Is Nothing Sacred? (updated with letter)

The Public Access Counselor of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office says the Illinois State Police must release the names of all FOID card holders to the Associated Press.

According to a story in the Chicago Tribune, the Illinois State Police have always kept the names of the FOID card holders private. The State Police had argued that releasing this information would violate the privacy of the FOID card holders and should be exempted from the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. This argument was overruled by the Public Access Counselor.

The letter was released on Monday night but it is not yet up on the Attorney General’s website. I have requested a copy of the letter from the Office of the Public Access Counselor. If I can get it, I will post it here.

Given that to possess a firearm in the state of Illinois one must have a FOID card, this list gives the press the name and address of every registered gun owner in the state. If something like this were to be published, criminals would be given a shopping list of houses ripe for break-ins. A contrarian view might be that crooks would know which houses could be more dangerous to hit because the owner is armed. Frankly, I lean more towards the former than the latter.

UPDATE: As I noted above, I requested a copy of the letter from the Public Access Counselor. I just received it this morning. I have embedded the full 8-page letter below.

FOID Letter – 10313 Rfr f Pb Ex Improper Sa

Illinois’s FOID Card Challenged

When one thinks of organizations supporting pro-gun rights litigation, immediately think of either the NRA or the Second Amendment Foundation. In California, this can be expanded to include the CalGuns Foundation and the California Rifle and Pistol Association. This explains, in part, why the case of Mishaga v. Monken which challenges Illinois’s Firearm Owner’s Identification law flew under the radar. You do not think of the Mountain States Legal Foundation which is providing legal assistance in both this case and the suit against the Nevada State Park system, Baker v. Biaggi et al.

That may well be changing. Jim Manley, the staff attorney for MSLF handling their firearms litigation, shared this in an email to me:

MSLF is committed to protecting individual rights and that commitment extends to protecting the right to keep and bear arms. To that end, MSLF filed amicus briefs in Heller and McDonald. MSLF also represents the students suing the University of Colorado to overturn that school’s concealed carry ban.

In this case, Mishaga v. Monken, the Illinois State Police are being sued by Ellen Mishaga for violating her Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Mrs. Mishaga is a resident of Ohio who frequently visits friends in Illinois on overnight trips. While staying in her friend’s home, she wants to be able to have a loaded firearm for self-protection. However, this would violate the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act, 430 ILCS 65/2 (10), which requires non-residents to keep their firearms unloaded and enclosed in a case. The other exceptions to the requirement to have a FOID card involve law enforcement officials, non-resident hunters, or competitors in shooting competitions – none of which apply to her. The full list can be found here.

As the suit states with regard to her Second Amendment rights:

9. The Second Amendment guarantees, inter alia, the right to possess and use firearms in a home for personal security.

10. An overnight guest has a legitimate expectation of personal security in her host’s home and an overnight guest has the same Second Amendment right to possess and use firearms that the overnight guest has in her own home.

Mrs. Mishaga twice applied for an Illinois FOID card and both times her application was rejected. The rejection was because she did not have an Illinois driver’s license or Illinois identification card. As a resident of the state of Ohio she is precluded from having either form of identification. The suit notes that “Illinois law recognizes the right of Illinois residents to keep and bear arms, Ill. Const. Art I, Sec. 22; 430 ICLS 65/1 et seq.” Therefore, the suit claims:

The right to travel, guaranteed by the privileges and immunities clauses of Article IV and the Fourteenth Amendment, is violated when a State discriminates against citizens of other States where there is no substantial reason for the discrimination beyond the mere fact that they are citizens of other States.

Specifically, with regard to Illinois:

Illinois law prohibits Ms. Mishaga from possessing a functional firearm for self-defense when she is an overnight guest in her friends’ Illinois home because she is not a resident of Illinois. 430 ILCS 65/2; 65/4; 65/14.

By prohibiting Ms. Mishaga from possessing a functional firearm, Defendant
currently maintains and actively enforces a set of laws, customs, practices, and policies under color of state law that discriminate against citizens of other States, including Ms. Mishaga, and thereby deprives Ms. Mishaga of the right to travel, in violation of the privileges and immunities clauses of Article IV and the Fourteenth Amendment.

The suit is seeking a permanent injunction against the enforcement of the FOID card requirement on out-of-state residents or, as an alternative, to process Mrs. Mishaga’s application for a FOID card. The lawsuit is filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois.

The full complaint can be found here.

While I, of course, want all the post-McDonald litigation to succeed, I especially want Mrs. Mishaga to prevail in her case. The Complementary Spouse’s mother lives on the Illinois side of the river in Metro St. Louis. Whenever we go out to visit, I must lock up and unload my firearm in Kentucky before we cross the Ohio River even though I have a concealed carry permit. If we go into St. Louis, we must travel through East St. Louis which has one of the highest crime rates in the nation. I drive through there in that gray area between being in Condition Yellow and being in Condition Orange. It is that bad.

I plan on sending a donation to MSLF. You can find out more about them here.