Metro-East News

Costello says FOID cards are an ‘extra burden’ for law-abiding Illinoisans

State Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton, filed legislation that would eliminate the need for Firearm Owner’s Identification, or FOID, cards in Illinois.
State Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton, filed legislation that would eliminate the need for Firearm Owner’s Identification, or FOID, cards in Illinois.

A state representative from Smithton has filed a bill that would eliminate the Firearm Owner’s Identification card, which is needed to buy or possess a gun and purchase ammunition in Illinois.

Rep. Jerry Costello II, a Democrat, says FOID cards are a burden to “responsible” Illinois residents and prevent them from obtaining firearms and exercising their Second Amendment rights.

“My job as a public official is to make sure the constitution is followed,” Costello said Friday. “... Obviously, I’m passionate about the Second Amendment, and people living under our constitution are allowed to bear arms. I think it is more burdensome in the state of Illinois than the rest of the country — and I think that’s wrong.”

All Illinois residents — barring a few who are specifically exempted, such as on-duty military personnel — must apply for a FOID card in order to legally purchase or possess a firearm or ammunition. According to Illinois State Police, the process is meant to determine whether an individual is eligible to purchase a firearm before allowing them to do so.

Currently, there are at least 22 factors that would disqualify a person from being eligible for a FOID card. Convicted felons and people convicted of aggravated assault, for example, are not eligible to receive FOID cards.

“Laws are designed for people who are law-abiding citizens,” Costello said. “So if you look at crimes that are committed, most criminals aren’t concerned about acquiring a gun legally.

The bill would repeal the Firearm Owner Identification Act, which went into effect in 1968, according to Illinois State Police.

Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence executive director Colleen Daley says removing FOID cards from the process would put more people in harm’s way.

“This is for our safety so that guns don’t end up in hands they shouldn’t have,” she said. “... I think it’s a great step to keep us safe and rolling this back will make us less safe.”

Illinois is one of four states that requires a credential or permit for gun ownership, according to Costello. If his bill passes, he said, Illinois would join the 46 other states — including those bordering Illinois — in following federal guidelines for buying and possessing guns and ammunition.

“It would be the same thing as buying a gun in any of the bordering states,” Costello said. “None of them require the extra burden of getting a FOID card.”

A FOID card in Illinois costs $10 and is valid for 10 years. Costello said what he finds most burdensome about the FOID cards is the financial costs as well as the time it takes to process.

Daley noted that FOID cards are used in private sales, as well, so sellers know that purchasers are legally allowed to own a gun.

“We call it FOID card verification ... and it ensures the state of Illinois has near-universal background checks,” Daley said.

State law requires Illinois State Police to either issue or deny a FOID card to an applicant within 30 days of receiving the application. But in the past, applicants have sometimes had to wait months to receive their cards, due to backlogs.

The bill is HB3178.

Residents of other states generally are allowed to possess guns in Illinois, even if they don’t have a gun permit from Illinois or their home state. Missouri and Indiana do not require gun permits for their residents to simply possess a gun in those states.

In other words, Missouri and Indiana residents can possess guns in Illinois without any type of permit, while Illinoisans are required to have a permit in order to possess a gun in Illinois.

Daley said with the number of shooting deaths in Chicago, this bill is not ideal.

“We need to do things to help stop gun violence,” Daley said. “We need to see movement on legislation that will help save lives, not legislation that would potentially put more people in harm’s way. We would fight tooth and nail if there is any movement on this bill.”

Costello said as far as crime reduction, he pointed to Chicago and Washington, D.C.’s history of gun bans.

“In both of those cases, when they were overturned in the Supreme Court, the next year crime actually went down,” he said.