Legal Issues

Audit of Illinois FOID System Uncovers Waste, Incompetence, Abuse

The Illinois Office of the Auditor General just released a report on the status of that state’s FOID card system. The results show that the system is effectively useless, wasteful, and insanely expensive. This should come as no surprise to Illinois residents, but the numbers are still worth looking at. It is difficult to image how the audit could have turned out any worse for those involved with the FOID system.

Illinois requires you to present a valid Firearms Owners Identification Card when you buy a firearm or ammunition. An Illinois resident wanting to own a gun must apply to the Illinois State Police for a FOID card as they would apply at the DMV for a driver’s license. First, a background check through the Federal NICS insta-check system is done. Then, the police conduct a check of the person’s mental health records through the Illinois Department of Human Services database. If the applicant passes both tests, they receive their FOID card, which they must present to buy guns or ammo. You must present the card upon demand to police at any time if they see you in possession of those items. The law has been in effect since 1968, and over 1.3 million Illinois residents have to renew theirs every ten years. The audit compiled numbers generated from 2008 through 2011, and resulted in these findings.

During 2010, only three of the 102 Circuit Court Clerks in Illinois submitted mental health court orders to the Illinois State Police as required by law.

The FOID card accesses the same Federal NICS database that federally licensed dealers (FFLs) access each time a customer submits a 4473 form to purchase firearms; so in that sense, it duplicates the check completed for any firearms purchase at a licensed dealer. What supposedly makes the FOID system worthwhile is the extra protection it provides by checking a state-run mental health database. This database gets its information from forms submitted by the Circuit Court Clerk of each county in Illinois. Of the 102 counties in Illinois, three clerks actually bothered to submit their counties’ mental health reports as required by law. However, before those three clerks start patting themselves on the back, they should realize that they still got it wrong. Forty-six percent of the forms they sent in were missing information necessary for inclusion in the database, such as date of birth, gender, and race. Therefore, those forms were thrown out.

Illinois mental health forms do not follow federal guidelines and cannot be used in the federal NICS database.

Private mental hospitals and nursing homes may also submit records for inclusion in the Human Services database, but the auditors found flaws in the form they use. It makes no distinction between voluntary and involuntary admissions to mental heath facilities. Under Illinois state law, this does not matter. Even voluntarily seeking help for depression or another mental issue will result denial of your FOID application, if your mental hospital submitted your records to the database. However, federal law states to only report involuntarily committed persons to the federal NICS database. Therefore, the Illinois State Police cannot add the information from mental health facilities to the federal NICS database. An insane person “missed” at the state level because the county clerks aren’t submitting court records will be “missed” again at the Federal NICS level because the Illinois mental health forms don’t follow federal law.

The state and federal databases searched by the FOID system do not include many indivduals whose mental health issues disqualify them from firearm ownership. The system is clearly not effective in preventing insane people from legally purchasing firearms. How efficient is it in approving or denying FOID cards for those who apply for them? Funny you should ask…

More than a third of all FOID applications take longer than the 30 days allowed by law.

Over a three-year period, only 64% of FOID applications approved were actually completed within the 30 days required by the law. Over the same time period, 71% of FOID applications denied were finished within the 30 days. As you might imagine, there have been some phone calls made to the Illinois State Police help line by folks with questions about the FOID system or the progress of their applications. Call logs obtained by the Office of the Auditor General showed that 25,131 of 29,420 calls made during the last quarter of 2010 went unanswered. That means 85% of the time, the Illinois State Police didn’t even pick up the phone on a customer service call.

What happens when a FOID card is revoked? The auditors found that the Illinois State Police only recover one out of three revoked FOID cards. Since there is no NICS insta-check done on ammunition purchases or in face-to-face firearms sales, there is no way for a seller to know if a FOID card used in those sales is valid or not. Right now, it looks as though two out of every three cards revoked by the State of Illinois are still in the hands of the original card holders. Whoops.

The cost: $239,156 in overtime pay for three state employees.

This system doesn’t work particularly well; but what does it cost to run it? The auditors found that from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011, the Illinois State Police spent $526,919 on overtime pay for FOID card processing. Three state employees sure like their FOID processing– they sucked up $239,156 of that overtime pay between themselves. For fiscal year 2010 the auditors looked at the top four employees with the most overtime and found that they each got about $85,000 in overtime pay that year, on top of their annual salary of $279,090. It may have been more reasonable to actually just hire additional Illinois State Police employees to process FOID applications and pick up the phone when a citizen calls with a FOID question. Surely, $526,000 in overtime pay would cover at least a couple of full-time employees working 40 hours a week. However, it seems there are at least three Illinois State Police who like the system just the way it is!

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Comments (39)

  1. What the hell would the losers in Illinois expect when they have continued to let lunatic Democratic graft hungry liberals run the state and Chicago for the past 75 years. You deserve this type of financial hell which is what you voted for. Morons!


  3. They cashed me about one month after I submitted my application. I am still waiting 70 days after the check was cleared. SXX of BXXX!

  4. Yep. After one snail mail, countless calls to a malfunctioning voice mail , and about twenty emails I called that 2177820132 number. Talked to a nice, helpful lady and got card in about two weeks! Sanchez nailed it.

  5. My wife and I mailed in our applications 3 weeks ago and as of today our checks still have not cleared. I love the efficiency of the state of Illinois.

  6. C. Sanchez, you are a God send. Thank you soooo much for the phone number. The woman we spoke to answered the phone right away and could not have been more helpful. The “customer service” number had us on hold 45 minutes and counting. Thanks again for your help.

  7. Hey guys, listen to C. Sanchez and call 217-782-0132, Office of Governmental Affairs. Its been 4 months since I’ve heard anything about my FOID, I called just 10 minutes ago, she messed around with some things on the computer and said she printed my card and that it would be at my house no later than 7 days.

  8. Thanks, Sanchez. I’ll try that and hope I don’t get on the cop hit list of traffic ‘violations’. I have now sent at least ten emails and one mail by USPS and not ONE answer!

  9. Call 217-782-0132, Office of Governmental Affairs. Worked for me, got my FOID about a week after making the call. Hope this helps.

  10. Check cashed in May. Still no card. NO ONE ever answers the phone, no one replies to four emails sent and no reply to snail mail sent. What a joke!

  11. I lived in ILL (notice that the abreviation for the People’s Social Republic of Illinois is ILL, a sickness or disease, mosy commonly sicknesses & diseases are associated with distinct symptions, Nausea and vomiting and pain (stomach cramps) and diarrhea. There is a reason Ill was found to be one of the mosr corrupt stares, from the cops to the governement.
    Crimminals hate an armed victem, it appears so does the criminals of the Ill governement and poilice. AFter all, thier ciztens are really abused subjests.

  12. I am leaving Illinois when I retire. I hate this state (that means….Chicago and the ‘burbs) but feel very sorry for the real people living down state.

  13. I left Illinois when I enlisted in the Air Force in 1962. Only been back to visit for 4 short days since then. Don’t miss it! You talk about Crook County, Puket Sound (<- Intentional)Washington, where Seattle abounds is nearly as bad. The Sound area swings all state-wide elections; we get great liberals elected here. So don't feel so put upon; you could be in NY, NJ, or MD.

  14. I too, am an unfortunate Illannoy (<–intentional) resident. The laws this state has for guns and the various ones they continually try to pass just make me laugh anymore. A little while back they, Chicago, were trying to gain support for what was essentially a gun license fee, which would make a law abiding citizen like myself have to pay an additional $65 or so per gun every year and give ISP a way to track individual guns. This is clearly outrageous.

    The really funny part though, was that the argument for the law in the letter I read. It read something like "XX% (I don't remember the exact figure…) of gun crimes in Chicago are committed with a gun sourced from outside of Cook county." Now… If I remember correctly… Weren't pretty much all guns banned from Cook county until recently??? Where else do they think the guns could possibly come from?

    Something else that I had happen recently was when I bough some ammo while in Missouri… I pulled out my FOID out of habit and the cashier looked at it, smiled and simply said "You don't need that thing here, honey." And I thought, "Man, this is nice."

    Unfortunately, I am unable to leave this state as of yet. But given an opportunity, I'm gone and never looking back.

  15. Well over two months still wating,called and tried to get a answer YOUR CALL IS VERY IMPORTANT TO US, waited for someone to pick up the phone. Over 45 min. i waited.My mistake was i didn,t call on overtime.You don,t need to wonder why the criminals don,t apply for a foic card in il.,they save 10.00 bucks.Only in il.

  16. took 2 months for me to get my FOID last year…was told it was due to the state police force being at half staff…but they shell about big bucks for people to wotk this overtime? irresponsible !

  17. “This is what Barack Hussein Obama has in mind for the entire country.”

    Now, Roger, that’s just silly. Barrack Obama has INCREASED gun rights twice while in the Oval Office, and by overturning Reagan-era legislation that was supported by the previous administration’s Justice Department. Those scare tactics are just as unfounded in 2012 as they were in 2008—the LAST time ammunition prices went through the roof based on unfounded fears.

  18. And, once again, a state government disarms the WRONG people through onerous hoop-jumping requirements. Criminals don’t care about those hoops, because they circumvent them; that’s why they’re called “criminals.”

    No wonder that in Chicago (by far one of the worst offenders in this regard) it’s open season on law abiding citizens. They’re the ones who can’t shoot back.

    Or, as an example I like to haul out on such discussions: There’s a reason why you don’t see a mass shooting at a pistol range. The potential “victims” are armed.

  19. This is what Barack Hussein Obama has in mind for the entire country. Let’s send him back to Crook County on Election Day, and Eric Withholder with him!

  20. Lets every voter outside of Crook County vote this election & remove some of this corruption. Until we remove speaker Michael Madigan nothing will change in Illinois. He is the power controlling Illinois legislation & he will get what he wants passed & resist what he doesn’t want. Gov Quinn still has some democratic political stroke in Chicago with legislators but Emanuel is fast taking over. We cannot expect any relief when there is no term limits to the seats. They become career crooks for life. We owe it to ourselves to make this extra effort this time. It is probably the most important election one will participate in.

  21. Coming back from California about 10 yrs ago,I got pulled over By the Nevada Highway patrol.I accidentaly pulled my FOID.You should have seen the exptession on the officers face when he saw it!He didnt know what it was.He showed it to his partners,and they passed it around thought it was hilarious! LOL LOL

  22. I had to renew mine, and knowing how FUBAR’d the system was I sent my app in 5 months early. 2 weeks after I sent the app in with my $10 and my picture, I noticed the check had been deposited, so I figured I would get the card in a week or two….. WRONG!!!! I tried calling and for the entire month of April all I got was a busy signal. When i finally got ahold of someone at their “customer service line” i was on hold for nearly 2 hours. After talking with them I learned someone down near KY, and I’m near Chicago, has the same name as me….Chris Johnson, I know I was shocked to learn that someone has the same name as me, but they needed to “confirm” that I was the correct one. After talking with them I finally, after 3 months, go my card, glad I didn’t wait til the last minute.

  23. Well, it has been about a month and a half since I sent in my app. It sounds like I have more waiting to do. I’ll tell you one thing, these assclowns are REAL quick to cash my check. Here’s a novel idea…..look at my app, approve or deny it, send it to me then cash my check. Every day must be like winning the lotto for these guys…..I picture these guys sitting in a room like kids on x-mas just opening cards looking for money and throwing away the card without even looking at it to see who sent it!

  24. I can honestly say that I’m ashamed of being from IL. This BS law makes me glad I live in KY, where gun rights are very respected.

  25. I’ve been waiting 67 days since submitting my application. If you call you get a recording that the extended wait time is 45-50 days and if you stay on the line you get another recording saying that your called will be answered in 35 minutes. It’s a pathetic joke!

  26. No wonder the state is going to hell in a hay basket.1st we had a few governors on the take. And now FOID employees making hundreds of thousands in overtime WTF! While we have firemen and law enforcement getting laid off! Thats disgusting

  27. I sent in 3 applications at the same time, two for the kids and one for my wife’s renewal. I got one of the kids NEW apps back in about 2 weeks and the other 2 (including a renewal) took about 2 months. Hmm… inept government at it’s finest? Indeed.

    To the other comments: Just under half of the IL population is in Cook County, to include Chicago. When Chicago politicians can’t get their way in house, they force it downstate to make it a state law. Since approx 68% of the state revenue comes out of the Chicago area, lawmakers and politicians don’t want to upset the machine and get cut out of funding. So, they roll over and play nice with the idiots.

    Despite starting a petition campaign in my HUGE town of 13,000 to send off to the ISP director, it was like spitting in the ocean. 7 million people “in jeopardy for their lives” that need protection from firearms vastly outweighed the discontent of 6,418 LAW-ABIDING CITIZENS concerned about their CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS being oppressed.

    Forget the fact that less than 4% of crimes committed with firearms in Cook County are lawfully obtained with the person in possession of a FOID card. Good thing the program is working!

  28. To Mr. McGuire, there are plenty of people here in IL who “seem to care much.” Unfortunately the population of Chitcago (misspelled intentionally)and the surrounding ‘burbs outnumber the rest of the state combined, but like the saying goes, “it takes not a majority, but a tireless minority.” Without a doubt the FOID card is equal to a poll tax….a tax for me, rather us, to exercise our 2nd Amend. rights here in IL. To those who aren’t getting their FOID card in the mandated by law timeframe, call your state rep/senator and have them chew some a$$ at ISP. That tends to get them motivated.

    Could be worse, could live in New Jersey :).

  29. As you can see, things are normal in the Peoples Republic of Illinois. You might think the taxpayers would revolt against the insane salaries paid to these employees, the FOID card process itself, or the fact that Illinois citizens have but a small portion of their second amendment constitutional rights. Sheeple in Illinois don’t seem to care much. How sad.

  30. I applied for my FOID card in March. I still have not received anything in the mail. I’ve called several times and have yet to speak with anyone. Illinois really sucks and I need to hurry up and get out of here.

  31. Unfortunately, I am an Illinois resident and must go through this insane process. I recently had to renew my FOID card a couple of months ago. It took at least 2 months to receive the first time, however, it got misplaced right after I received it and couldn’t find it for the life of me. After searching for a couple of days, I thought I would call the Illinois State Police FOID division and explain my situation and see if they could send me a replacement. After several attempts and always being on hold when I called I decided to just fill out another form with my ten bucks for a new one. I’m still waiting because of this bullcrap.

  32. The article is not real clear but I believe that is the total for the four employees, still nearly 80,000/yr in regular pay plus 85,000 overtime ain’t too bad in todays economy.

  33. WTF a liscense clerk making $279000.00 + overtime pay a year, thats $134.13 an hour straight time!!! I live in TEXAS and i’m outraged! no wonder that state is near bankruptsy

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