The delays and frustration continue for Illinois residents looking to apply or renew their firearms permits.
Joann Williams of Chicago told NBC 5 her ten year Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card is due to expire soon and she is having difficulty getting through to the state’s firearm’s services call center for renewal help.
“It’ll say we’re experiencing a high volume of calls and then it just says ‘goodbye’,” Williams said.
NBC 5 Investigates reported in August that the state’s Firearm Services Bureau was staffed with five individuals to help the thousands of people with questions about their FOID and Illinois Concealed Carry License (ICCL) applications. Applicants reported not being able to get through to a live person when they contacted the call center.
“With their messing around with people getting access to renew their FOID cards, they’re basically doing something that’s unconstitutional,” Williams said.
The Illinois State Police has said it is aware of longstanding issues surrounding the call center and is currently working on upgrading the technology at the center for more efficient processing of information. That includes a planned Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which the state said will allow for automated interactions and call backs.
According to the Illinois State Police, the VoIPl comes with an estimated start-up cost of $750,000 and a recurring monthly cost of $10,000. The costs are being paid for through the State Police Firearm Services Fund.
A recent study by the Illinois State Rifle Association found nearly $30 million in funds generated by FOID user fees in the last five years was diverted to general state spending. The ISRA argued the revenue should have been used to reduce the wait time for FOID card applications.
The ISRA said it worked with Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) to have the Legislative Research Unit produce an unbiased accounting of the revenues generated by the FOID card and ICCL fees.
“Sweeps are used to balance a budget,” Wheeler said. “We should be careful about how we approach those sweeps because public safety should be our number one priority.”
A spokesperson for Governor J. B. Pritzker told NBC 5 the administration continues working closely with Illinois State Police to improve the FOID card process.
“It’s abundantly clear that the state government was hollowed out under previous administrations and Governor Pritzker is working to reverse course and ensure critical state services are restored for the people of Illinois,” the spokesperson said.