SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — Illinois’ FOID card backlog just became a bit less crowded.
In a press release, Illinois State Police (ISP) said it was able to reduce backlogs for FOID cards by 89 percent for renewals and 75 percent for new applicants. This is largely due to ISP rebuilding the Firearms Services Bureau (FSB), an agency that focuses on public safety and streamlining bureaucracy.
With a surge in applications in 2020, the FSB began a multi-faceted approach to increase efficiencies to reduce processing times, delete redundancies and streamline the process to eliminate future backlogs.
The improvements have been three-fold: technology and process, hiring, and legislation.
Despite the high number of Firearm Transaction Inquiries – a number that has remained consistently high for the past 18 months, the FSB is currently processing within the mandated 72 hours.
Technology and process improvements
In 2020, the FSB received an unprecedented number of new FOID and CCL applications. At its peak, applications for new FOID cards hit nearly 143,000 in October.
“The ISP supported legislation for a streamlined process for FOID renewals coupled with combining FOID and CCL expiration dates that will allow for further reduction in processing times by reducing the number of redundant background checks. Additional proposals to streamline the new FOID applications, and CCL new and renewal applications are currently being tested by the software vendor and ISP FSB,” the organization said in a press release.
The ISP has hired new analysts, call takers, and other administrative personnel to improve the application process.
In addition to hiring and improving technology and processes, the ISP advocated for legislative changes in the Spring and Summer of 2021. HB 562 was the first significant rewrite of the FOID Act since 1968. It also offered many revisions to the CCL Act and Appeals processes.
To streamline existing firearms statutes and focus resources on threats to safety, the legislation:
- Consolidates the FOID and CCL card into a single card.
- Renews FOID eligibility in sync with CCL eligibility by allowing automatic renewal of FOIDs when a CCL is approved or renewed.
- Grants the ISP the authority to create an electronic card, like when you get on a plane or get a vaccination or go to a movie, in lieu of an antiquated paper card, that can be instantly updated to reduce wait times and communicated by email or text.
- Allows for the use of Secretary of State address information rather than require card holders to submit separately (and redundantly) for a FOID.
- Establishes the Violent Crime Intelligence Task Force to aid in enforcement of FOID card revocation or suspension enforcement.
- Creates a publicly searchable database that contains the serial numbers of weapons that have been reported stolen.