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Firearms background checks dragging on in Illinois

By GREG BISHOP, The Center Square

Illinois topped the list of all states for firearm background checks so far this year, and is already on pace to blow last year’s numbers out of the water. And reports persist of people waiting beyond the three-day waiting period to pick up the guns they’ve purchased.

There are also more than 143,000 Firearm Owner Identification, or FOID card, applicants still waiting for their cards to be processed by Illinois State Police.

A state representative says this is tantamount to civil rights being infringed.

Monthly records from the FBI’s NICS Firearm Background Checks report show in the first seven months of the year, there have been nearly 4.6 million checks. That dwarfs every other state, with only Kentucky coming close with 2.2 million checks from January through July.

Illinois’ total is nearly equal to all of the 4.9 million checks in 2019, leading the nation. It’s unclear how the pandemic that led to government shutdowns of the economy in March may have added to the demand in Illinois as there have been at least 610,000 checks a month since January, with July topping 714,000. The highest number of checks per month in 2019 for Illinois was 548,000 in December. The lowest number was 190,000 in February of that year.

Illinois State Police say as of Thursday, they have more than 5,300 pending firearm transfer inquiry program requests.

State Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville, said aside from calls about problems with unemployment, his office is flooded with frustrated calls from constituents upset they’re Second Amendment rights are being infringed upon. And it’s not just gun owners.

“I got an email from a gun shop owner just a few days ago, there was eight or 10 transactions on there that were 10 days-plus old,” Halbrook said. “That doesn’t really help in times like this. They think that they are intentionally being throttled back on those kinds of things.”

ISP said there’s about a seven business day average wait for the FTIP requests to be processed.

In order to buy a gun or ammunition in Illinois, the consumer must have a valid FOID card.

In the first seven months of the year, ISP says it’s processed more than 87,000 FOID cards. But Thursday, state police said there are still 143,000 requests pending that include new applications, renewals and other requests like address changes.

Halbrook said the bureaucracy is failing to protect their rights.

“These are our constitutional rights, our liberties, and they’re being infringed upon,” Halbrook said. “I don’t care how you shake it out, how you spin it, that’s what’s happening.”

He said the failings have been going on long before COVID-19, and something has to be done.

“So, evidently we have a system that’s not working for the people, it’s broken, whatever you want to say and something has to be done, and it has to be done soon rather than later,” Halbrook said.

ISP said they are in the process of hiring new analysts to process applications, but that requires a minimum of six-months of training.

As to when a FOID card holder can apply for a renewal, ISP said such requests are permitted 90 days prior to the card’s expiration. Upon logging on to the ISP’s FOID website, an individual may see their card status is active and the issue date of the card, but the expiration date may say “COVID-19” instead of reflecting what’s on the physical card the holder provides a gun store.

The state’s FOID card system faces multiple lawsuits in both state and federal courts.


  1. jerrry e wilson on September 28, 2020 at 8:43 pm

    I b ought a gun 9 days ago and they have not heard back ,what is the hold up

    • Steve Stocker on December 2, 2020 at 8:07 am

      Waiting since November 5th for approval on a rifle purchase. No criminal record and have a valid foid card. Today is December 2nd and still no approval.

  2. jerrry e wilson on September 28, 2020 at 8:46 pm

    what is the hold up

  3. Ernie Faltum on November 16, 2020 at 9:35 am

    I to purchase the firearm on a November 7th 2020. I still have not received a call nor email from point blank in Naperville. It’s unconstitutional to have to wait beyond 72 hours if there’s no issue with the foid.

    • Rand Abe on January 16, 2021 at 9:05 pm

      Still waiting for a green light for my purchase in September. Purchased at Point Blank too.

    • Stephen on July 19, 2021 at 12:49 pm

      What if you had no firearm at all? Would you still be patient? Also, you can see how at some point of delay, it does strain 2A rights. Finally, doesn’t the delay render the FOID card meaningless? If you have to get a background check to get a FOID card then have to get another background check at the time of every gun purchase, the FOID is pretty much admin overhead and a waste of time. Really, what’s the point of the FOID card? About none.

    • Joe on October 26, 2023 at 8:55 pm

      It’s unconstitutional to wait at all. Let alone a foid card when they do a background check anyway. Just an extra step to discourage people

  4. Ernie Faltum on November 16, 2020 at 9:37 am

    It’s truly upsetting and very frustrating. Is this what our country has come to. Slowly having your thoughts restricted and stripped from you!

    • Antonio on August 17, 2021 at 5:44 pm

      Took 19 days for my background check to be approved. I work a lot of overtime, so I couldn’t make it until the following week to pick it up. At that point, it was 30 days from the initiation of the background check. I HAD TO RESUBMIT ANOTHER BACKGROUND CHECK BECAUSE THEY TOOK THEIR TIME APPROVING THE FIRST ONE! Sorry for yelling. Now I have to wait again until i’m approved for the same exact firearm THAT I WAS ALREADY APPROVED FOR! Why should not have to wait for them to approve it again because they took 3 weeks. Why do we have to resubmit after 30 days from the initiation of the background check if they where the ones at fault for taking 19 days instead of the 72 hours they have BY LAW!

  5. John on November 20, 2020 at 3:37 pm

    I have a perfect background- but bc my name is common the store salesman said its automatically flagged, along side 200k others for verification (by a dept of 10 people). I have a FOID, a Conceal carry, but when I drove 90 minutes to pick up a shotgun I had permission 🙂 to buy myself for Christmas, I was told to turn around and come back some other time when the state gets around to proving im who I am.

    Imagine if Voting stations told votes with foreign names they had to come back in a couple days to vote while their names were verified? That would be horrific right!?! Both my FOID, and my CC prove I had recent background checks… so much for shotgun hunting season this weekend. I paid for the shotgun over a week ago.

    • William Brown on November 1, 2023 at 4:04 pm

      Yes, we too have FOID cards. A total and complete waste of time. Gun shop said they have no idea why Illinois is delaying background check. Of course they took our money in minutes. Another reason to never pay in advance 100% of the purchase price. No incentive to to produce the goods.

  6. Epi Velez on November 24, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    I purchased a handgun on 11th November and today 24 November checked again with my local dealer and still have not been approved! This is insane! I have an expired FOID only because it hasn’t been processed and I paid for the renewal the max allowed time in advance to prevent any additional wait time which was right before the end of 2019! I have a CCW which is good to go and what my local dealer used when I purchased. This is totally ridiculous! I am a retired service member with a sparkling clean record and have purchased other guns with absolutely no issues.

  7. GARY SCHMIDT on January 15, 2021 at 7:57 am

    I’m spending the extra wait time (which I expect to be plentiful) to clean my existing guns and take inventory of my ammo (which is also plentiful) Hang in there bros.

  8. thomas crawford on March 22, 2021 at 7:32 am

    there needs to be a time limit on background checks. xamonunt of days and pick it up.

  9. Stephen Garlington on March 23, 2021 at 3:07 pm

    I can certainly understand that gun purchasers’ patience is being tried. But, in part,due to the hysteria around buying a gun millions of new gun owners, flooded the system which has been overwhelmed. So, inpatient folks turn to pouting, expressing entitlement, and even suing. I just bought my 4th gun and no, I don’t want to wait longer than 3 days to be approved. But, I do understand the problem. I will not resort to pouting and such. I can delay gratification for ar heaven’s sake,!

    • L. S. on May 10, 2021 at 11:10 am

      I live in Indiana and have bought several guns since the panademic with the longest wait time being fifteen minutes. Then I bought a shotgun in Illinois ( I live three miles from the border ) and it has been to my surprise how totally your process has change since I used to live there! It has changed so slowly that you don’t realize that the rest of the country hasn’t changed! I can decide in the morning I am tired of the way my gun is jamming and be out hunting with a new gun by noon! Think about it! It was that way in Illinois not thirty years ago!

    • bryant on June 21, 2021 at 12:56 pm

      you’re not an American talking like that. so a 50 yr old veteran never been in trouble has to wait but a civilian like you whos never served their country doest have wait longer?? be quite

    • S on July 19, 2021 at 12:49 pm

      What if you had no firearm at all? Would you still be patient? Also, you can see how at some point of delay, it does strain 2A rights. Finally, doesn’t the delay render the FOID card meaningless? If you have to get a background check to get a FOID card then have to get another background check at the time of every gun purchase, the FOID is pretty much admin overhead and a waste of time. Really, what’s the point of the FOID card? About none.

    • Antonio on August 17, 2021 at 5:57 pm

      The Second Amendment makes me entitled. They are being sued to forced them to come up with a better system. Illinois elected officials don’t want us to have firearms anyway, so they don’t care to make it as seamlessly as possible to receive one. People are pouting because they can break a law and get away with it.

      P.S: They were taken their sweet time before Covid, it just made it worse.

  10. BbytheH2O on April 11, 2021 at 4:23 pm

    Appreciate the helpful explanations. Thanks Stephen; refreshing to hear. I imagine matters are more complicated than they appear on the surface, and that other states have experienced similar delays. The CoronaVirus pandemic affected processes significantly, leading to losses of life, disability, unemployment, as well. I was lucky to have my FOID before the Pandemic struck. I feel for those who never obtained their FOID before the pandemic and now do have that extra delay, however, I heard that some of them have still been receiving them, but taking a couple of months longer; “If so”, that is great.

  11. Smidem826 on June 3, 2021 at 9:32 pm

    I renewed my Foid on 6/20/20, with change of address, today is 6/3/21 and my status is still under board review, I have a valid CCW which expires in September, which I can’t renew until 3 months prior to expiration. This too will probably take a year to get back. Im trying to purchased a Rifle, but the background check is delayed, the gun store states that after 30 days it expires and will have to do another background check at a $5 charge . Which delays purchase further. Why is this being allowed to happen, if this isn’t a clear infringement on our rights, disguised as back log I don’t know get why are our representatives not pushing for a change

  12. bryant anderson on June 21, 2021 at 12:53 pm

    i ordered an AK hellpup PISTOL online. it was sent to my local gunshop in chicago. and im still WAITING MAN. never been in trouble i have 3 guns, its been over a week. im pissed man Illinois is a terrible state for a gun owner. but the criminals get to get all the guns they want. Glocks with switches and 50 round drums. but nope not legal gun owners

    • Lorenzo on July 23, 2021 at 10:33 am

      Have you received your fire arm?
      I purchased one online and had it shipped to Ffl dealer near me and it’s been over ten days now and still nothing.

  13. Vicky powers on July 4, 2021 at 3:19 pm

    I guess I just don’t understand , I have a valid F..O.I.D card . I thought that was the whole purpose of getting one.. because that’s what they do a background check to see if the state of Illinois deems you ok to possess a firearm..
    what is the purpose of even getting a F.O.I.D. Card if they are going to again do another background check and make you wait more than 72 hrs . I don’t get it
    I have also worked in the DEPT OF Revenue for 10 years where they do an extensive background check with fingerprinting to even allow you to work in that building , you must be cleared and have a clean record … so I guess I just don’t understand what is going on with the state of Illinois .. I was born and raised in St.Louis Missouri where I lived for 35 years . we had countless firearms , never had to prove nothing or have anything to own them .. That was our right to protect ourselves and our families . I do understand every state has different laws , so I did not cry like a baby or throw a fit when I was told what was required to have a gun in the state of Illinois . I followed procedure … all I am saying is if they are going to again do another back ground check and make you wait like that it sounds to me like they are 2nd guessing giving you a F.O.I. D card in the first place .. so do away with the F.O.I.D cards and just do the background check when you go to purchase a firearm period . To me that’s just common sense then they would not have to hire all these extra people to help with the F.O.I.D cards when they seem to be useless
    Happy 4 th of July everyone .. Be safe snd have fun .

  14. Stephen on July 19, 2021 at 11:06 pm

    After several years of experience, I have come to the opinion that the Illinois FOID card is a waste of taxpayer money and a burden on gun purchasers with no offsetting benefit to society. I therefore ask our elected officials to move for the elimination of the FOID card requirement from Illinois law.

    If you want to buy a gun, first you must apply for and receive a FOID card. But wait, there’s more. Even if the background check for the FOID card completed the day you got that card and you went right to the gun store, you would still have to go through another background check for the gun purchase. You will not be allowed to take the gun home unless and until a second background check passes. So why then even have FOID card theater?

    FOID cards provide no extra security. It is commonly reported that FOID card revocations and expirations don’t guarantee gun surrender. The Aurora, IL mass shooter got rejected for a concealed carry permit but never had his guns taken. Having a FOID card to buy ammo adds little to no safety. Ammo without a weapon provides minimal risk to society, like nails without a hammer won’t build a house.

    Does the FOID card facilitate private seller selling? Not really. The buying private seller has to get another background check and approval before the transaction can proceed. Again, the FOID card does nothing more than a fairy tale: “Once upon a time,… this person passed a background check, but don’t count on that.”

    So really what is the point of a FOID card? What value and protection does it provide? None, absolutely none. It isn’t even good for the very first gun purchase under it. The FOID card program wastes taxpayer money, adds burden to citizens legally entitled to own weapons, and adds no safety since each and every gun purchase requires another background check anyway. This article shows long delays getting Illinois approvals of gun purchases. If the strained ISP employees weren’t doing FOID background checks that they will redo the moment the FOID holder actually tries to buy a gun, maybe clearances on gun purchases could move a little faster.

    So please eliminate this useless, redundant, valueless FOID card requirement from Illinois law.

  15. RN on September 13, 2021 at 8:46 am

    Made a purchase Thursday still waiting 4 days later
    Police officers should not be a part of this silly law as I already own and have access to a multitude of weapon platforms including knives. Kooling off periods are truly useless for LEO’S. Stop your politics and rethink your own policies
    They’re not applicable to LEOs

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