* Press release…
House Republican legislators held a Zoom press conference on Wednesday to address concerning delays in FOID card and Concealed Carry Licenses (CCLs) processing, and discussed their shared 2nd Amendment focused legislative agenda.
State Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Morrisonville) named several constituents by name that have felt the strain and anxiety caused by the delays in processing FOID and CCLs.
“When it comes to our most basic rights, like the right to keep and bear arms, there is no room for error or delay,” Bourne said. “I hear every single day from frustrated constituents who have been waiting months upon months to receive renewals or initial FOID cards and concealed carry licenses. The Pritzker administration is failing to lead on this issue. Illinoisans deserve better.”
State Rep. CD Davidsmeyer (R-Jacksonville) argued if the state of Illinois cannot operate the FOID program in an efficient manner, the program should be eliminated.
“If the State Police can’t get the FOID program to work within the allotted time, it should be suspended immediately. We are required to follow the law, but they are not!”
State Rep. Mike Marron (R-Fithian) says his office handles dozens of calls from frustrated residents every month. Most of the time, Marron says, answers are hard to come by.
“Over the last year, my office has received hundreds of constituent complaints on the FOID card renewal process,” Marron said. “There has been a steady increase of approval delays leading to many frustrated citizens unable to speak with a live person when checking on their FOID renewal and approval status. This has been a problem for a long time pre-dating the Covid-19 pandemic. The Democrat majority swept $28,000,000 million dollars out of the dedicated fund that is supposed to administer the FOID program. We are sponsoring bills to eliminate the program and end the delays.”
State Rep. Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis) is a former prosecutor, and member of the House Judiciary Criminal Law Committee. Windhorst says FOID delays can be fixed via legislation or full elimination of the requirement.
“Illinois is one of only four states in the Union that require citizens to obtain a FOID card,” Windhorst said. “We should eliminate the FOID card requirement. While that might not be possible given the current makeup of the General Assembly, the legislature should immediately pass reforms to ensure Illinoisans can exercise their 2nd Amendment rights without unnecessary delays in the FOID and concealed carry card process. Let’s get to work in Springfield to address these delays and provide appropriate service to our citizens.”
* From the Gun Violence Prevention Education Center/Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence…
Today, four state legislators held a press conference recommending that Illinois State Police hastily rush forward in approving the backlog of Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) Card applications.
GPEC/ICHV rejects any action expediting FOID card applications unless a thorough background check is completed. We know that rushed and reckless, gun-lobby sponsored actions like this are a threat to public safety. As gun violence prevention advocates, we also recognize that the current system does not protect the public from illegal guns. This year in Cook County alone, over 800 people died from gun violence. The State police should be very careful to issue licenses for more guns when Illinois does not have measures in place to protect the public from corrupt gun dealers and illegal gun sales.
If legislators are serious about protecting public safety and keeping firearms out of the hands of bad faith actors, they should support the Block Illegal Ownership (BIO) policy. This policy calls for a full modernization of the FOID card process which includes:
• Requiring background checks for all gun sales, including by private sellers, curbing the flow of guns into the illegal secondary market.
• Requiring applicants for FOID cards to submit fingerprints to spot dishonest applicants.
• Requiring action by Illinois State Police (ISP) to remove guns once a FOID Card is revoked.
Gun violence is a public health crisis and we will not take shortcuts on the safety of our children, families and communities. GPEC/ICHV is working hard to ensure that gun ownership and gun purchases in the state of Illinois are vetted thoroughly and legally. Our one aim is to fight for a future free of gun violence.
* Illinois State Police…
The Firearms Owner’s Identification card was first enacted by the Illinois legislature 52 years ago. Since that time, the Illinois State Police Firearms Services Bureau has been tasked with the administration of the FOID card, the concealed carry license (CCL), the Firearms Transfer Inquiry Program (FTIP), gun dealer licensing, appeals, background correlations, investigative support, enforcement and customer service for the firearms safety laws of Illinois.
ROOTS OF THE CURRENT BACKLOG CHALLENGE
The demands placed on our state’s firearms safety system have been outgrowing capacity for years:
• The number of FOID card holders has grown from 1.2 million to 2.2 million in a decade.
• CCL holders grew from 90,301 in 2014 to 343,299 in 2020.
• Due to the lengthy budget impasses, the Firearms Services Fund was “swept” in 2015 and 2018 and no plan to maintain or expand staffing was developed during that period. The current administration has not swept the fund and, in 2019, new leadership over ISP FSB initiated a hiring plan and metrics-based strategic plan focused on outcomes and accountability.
Then came 2020.
This year, the ISP FSB was confronted with a massive work increase across all categories:
• FOID card applications increased 167% from 166,649 in 2017 to 445,945 as of November 2020, blowing past the small surge in 2013 when CCL was enacted.
• FTIPS increased 45% from 2019 reaching 506,104 so far in 2020.
• ISP FSB processed an unprecedented 64,000+ FTIPs in March 2020 — the largest number recorded for one month until that record was broken in June with 65,000+ FTIPs.
• ISP FSB has processed more than 67,000 incoming records (correlations*) in 2020.
• More than 400,000 calls came into the FSB Call Center from May to November when a new automated phone system with metrics was activated.
HOW ISP IS CONFRONTING THE CHALLENGE
ISP FSB is facing this unprecedented confluence of demands head on with increased staffing, process mapping and analysis, technology, flexibility and transparency:
• Director authorized hiring of 32 additional firearms eligibility analysts in February and additional hiring of temporary contractors.
• FSB began an active recruiting effort to fill vacant Firearms positions in the FSB and retain employees in these positions hurt by turnover.
• ISP FSB was directed in 2019 to refine application processes using well-known management analytics called Lean Six Sigma or Rapid Results, which has been used successfully across a number of sectors to increase efficiency by removing unnecessary steps and reducing variation. The ISP has used this process to reduce the Forensic backlog by 48%. ISP authorized a state-contracted service specializing in Rapid Results methodology to implement effective and efficient measures to assist in decreasing the backlog.
• ISP FSB modernized its Call Center with a Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) system in April 2020, which provides a menu of automated processes, such as status checks, payments and specific applications to replace the antiquated single line system.
• ISP online access was redesigned to allow applications to be submitted from mobile phones and tablets with user ID and password recovery capabilities to improve customer service and responsiveness.
• ISP provided relief to FOID card holders and CCLs by submitting emergency rules addressing renewals during the COVID-19 epidemic through which FOID cards and CCLs remain valid during the renewal process, if a renewal application was properly submitted by the cardholder.
• ISP provided detailed, transparent briefings to the Illinois General Assembly Restore Illinois Commission and other policy makers and stakeholders throughout 2020.
PROGRESS SO FAR
With staffing increases, elimination of internal redundancies, and execution of technology upgrades, some metrics are slowly, but steadily improving. This progress has been achieved by:
• hiring 21 Firearms Eligibility Analysts hired since March 2020, with 11 additional planned to start in January 2021.
• dedicating 19 temporary contractual employees to ISP FSB.
• temporarily assigning 7 sworn personnel to ISP FSB.
• implementing 7 of 14 major Lean Six Sigma changes to the process.
• the adoption of recommendations in FOID processing resulted in a 33% improvement in productivity in individual background processing.
• the implementation of the Call Center VoIP system implementation in April 2020, nearly 100,000 calls have been handled through the system’s self-service capabilities.
• cleared approximately 67,000 correlations* in CY20.
• holding down processing times averaging well below the 72-hour waiting period, even with a 45 percent increase in FTIP transactions from CY19 to CY20.
• processing 216,805 FOID applications this year.
• processing 50,557 CCLs this year.
• FSB staff working approximately 17,000 hours of overtime.
• processing more new applications were than received in October and November. This is the first time this has happened in CY20. More than 24,000 applications processed in November alone.
THE CHALLENGE AHEAD
Average time for processing a FOID application is 121 days and the average time for a CCL is 145 days. These outcomes are unacceptable to the ISP. Staffing, internal modifications and technology alone will not resolve this issue. The Lean Six Sigma/Rapid Results analysis and firearms services review produced many recommendations requiring statutory authority from the General Assembly to overcome the numerous redundancies in the overlapping FOID process, the CCL process, the FTIP process and the records correlation process that double or triple the workload of ISP FSB personnel without improving public safety outcomes. With over 10,000 FOID revocations and with over 4,700 FTIP denials in 2020, enforcement also remains a serious concern. The conclusions presented to the Restore Illinois Commission in October showed the varied firearms safety processes that have evolved inconsistently over sixty years must be integrated into a modern firearms safety structure that efficiently screens applicants and prioritizes safety. This cannot be accomplished without the support of the General Assembly.
“Aurora showed to everyone that Illinois should be using less of our resources on an antiquated, outdated, inefficient, ineffective renewal process from the 1960s and more on enforcement against real threats to public safety,” said ISP Director Brendan Kelly. “Our people believe in building a system that makes it hard for the bad guys and simple and safe for the good guys. The Illinois State Police will keep pushing hard, but frankly we will need authority from the legislature to untangle, streamline and integrate the aging patchwork of FOID, concealed carry, firearms transactions, and records checks if we are going to fulfill this mission.”
*Each day hundreds of criminal history and mental health records are processed by FSB personnel and compared against current FOID cardholders. The timely correlation of these records ensures that FOID cards of prohibited individuals are revoked.