CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WMBD) — Over 5,000,000 Illinoisans have been processed through federal firearm background checks in 2020.
This topped off in July with 714,424 NICS firearm checks.
Now, Illinois gun owners are now facing a nation-wide ammo shortage combined with a backlog of FOID card applications across the State.
When the pandemic started, FOID card applications in Illinois skyrocketed almost triple the amount from what they were in months before.
Now there’s a backlog with an overall wait time of 94 days.
Illinois State Police said there’s a backlog of 135,573 (includes new applications, renewals and other FOID card requests such as address changes, etc.).
As of August 31, ISP has processed 142,462 applications.
The Agency attirbuted it to short staffing due to the pandemic, and an uptick in applications.
For reference, you can see the chart below showing the amount of applications ISP has received since the pandemic started.
Dan Dolan, owner of DLD VIP is located at 1405 E Lake Ave, Peoria Heights said maybe the State should just get rid of the FOID card overall.
“If we could just abolish that and continue using the FTIP and NICS program that are already provided for us federally by the FBI and ATF, there’d be a lot less delays that everybody is experiencing,” Dolan said. “You don’t hear any other state that they’re having 170 days for a FOID card or a background check because they’re using the federal programs that are already designed for this.”
Dolan said it’s a material shortage and a rise of firearm purchases that’s keeping ammo from hitting the shelves.
“It’s currently the primers for each round that is causing this shortage. Everybody going out everyday and buying ammo,” Dolan said. “The demand that all firearms industries are seeing is we’re up roughly 400% compared to our typical Christmas-time rush. We’re not even in Christmas time.”
Sgt. Stuart Fraser with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources told WMBD the Department’s most popular question is — “What do I do if my FOID card hasn’t been renewed?”
“If people have applied for their FOID card, even if it is expired, if they’ve applied for it, their FOID card, for all intensive purposes valid for the entirety of the disaster proclamation up to 18 months after the proclamation,” Sgt. Fraser said.
Sgt. Fraser said for first-time applicants, Illinois State Police are fast tracking your application.
“If you haven’t had one, you’ve gotta wait until you have your FOID card for the first time before you can do anything. State Police said they are putting new applications ahead of renewals. Hopefully, people applying for the first time will get their FOID cards in a reasonable time,” Sgt. Fraser said.
If you are out hunting, he said officers can use “LEADS” (Law Enforcement Automated Data System) to see if you have at least applied for your FOID card.
“It’s done all on computer or over the radio. If we’re checking somebody, we just go over to the radio, use our computer, and it’ll show us if they’ve applied for a FOID card,” Sgt. Fraser said.
Sgt. Fraser wanted to remind hunters this fall of the four universal firearm safety rules.
“Keep your finger off the trigger, know your target and what’s behind, don’t cover anything with the muzzle of your weapon that you’re not willing to destroy, and treat your firearms as if they’re loaded at all times,” Sgt. Fraser said.
“It never fails that every year someone unfortunately gets shot by another hunter or accidentally gets shot by themselves,” Sgt. Fraser said.
Since the pandemic started, Illinois State Police have received an average of over 35,000 FOID card applications a month.
A spokesperson with ISP told WMBD they’re currently working to hire new analysts to help process applications. They’ve been working to hire the employees, since early this year.
“The hiring process is ongoing and includes a minimum six-month training program to ensure applications are accurately and efficiently processed,” said ISP spokesperson Christopher Watson.
Watson said if you are looking to check your FOID application status, click here.
If you want to learn more about hunting in Illinois, click here.
Fraser added tree stand safety is another thing hunters need to remember.
“People climb up in their tree stands, maybe they haven’t’ checked them in awhile. Check all the nuts, bolts, screws, or whatever is holding your tree stand in. Make sure that thing is solid,” Sgt. Fraser said. “If it’s icy out, make sure of the ice that’s on the step. Always wear a fall-restraint device. All tree stands comes with it, if your stand doesn’t come with one, you should probably buy one. Those are those straps people wear on their chest attached to the tree.”
Sgt. Fraser said some in-person hunting safety have started in-person again, but some are online.
“You have to complete a hunter safety course before you can go out, anybody born after 1980 has to,” Sgt. Fraser said.
“The classes have started back up for the youth, the list of those classes is on the DNR website. We also have the apprentice license, that doesn’t require the hunter safety course. It requires a little more paperwork to get, but an adult can apply for an apprentice license,” Sgt. Fraser said. “We always have the youth hunting and trapping license. As long as the youth has an adult with them, that has a license, they don’t have to take hunter safety either. They can just get the youth hunting and trapping license, and they can go out also.”Sgt. Stuart Fraser | Illinois Department of Natural Resources