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May. 14 2021

Illinois FOID Card Debate Heats Up: What You Need to Know

Posted By: Sami Azhari

Illinois FOID Card Debate Heats Up: What You Need to Know

The debate between those on opposite ends of the gun control spectrum rages across state Houses everywhere, even in Illinois.

Two recent bills in the Illinois legislature prove just how divisive this debate has become.

One bill suggests fingerprinting anyone who obtains a Firearm Owner Identification Card (FOID). The bill also requires a more frequent renewal process for the card.

The second bill proposes valid digital forms of FOID cards. It essentially lowers gun ownership hurdles by facilitating automatic renewal.

To muddy the waters further, an Illinois circuit court judge recently ruled FOID cards in Illinois unconstitutional, which could send this question all the way to the State Supreme Court.

What are FOID cards and how are they currently used in Illinois? Read on to find out more.

FOID Card: What Is It?

Any Illinois resident who wants to own firearms or ammunition must apply for an FOID card. It is not a “conceal and carry” permit. The FOID card simply identifies persons eligible to possess guns and ammunition in the state.

Illinois requires this card for possession of firearms, ammunition, stun guns, or tasers. If you are not a resident of Illinois, you do not need this card. Also, exemptions exist for certain Illinois residents. These include:

  • Federal officials performing their duties
  • Active United States Marshals
  • Veteran organization members who received firearms from the U.S. Armed Forces
  • Nonresidents who hunt, go to shooting ranges, or display firearms at a show sanctioned by the Department of State Police
  • Authorized resident hunters accompanied by someone with a valid FOID card

Conceal-and-carry licenses do not preclude the need for an FOID card. If you intend to purchase ammunition or firearms in the state, you need an FOID card. The remains valid for 10 years.

IL Eligibility Requirements of a FOID Card

To be eligible for an FOID card in Illinois, you must meet several requirements.

The most basic requirement is age. You must be at least 21 years old. If you’re under 21, you need an eligible guardian or parent to help you apply.

In general, you need to be in good legal standing for firearm possession. For example:

  • No felony convictions
  • No known narcotic addictions
  • No mental health facility inpatient stays within the past five years

You are also excluded if you fit into the following categories:

  • Intellectually disabled
  • Unlawfully present in the US
  • Convicted of domestic battery

To see the full list of firearms prohibitions, visit the Illinois State Police Firearm Service Bureau website.

How to Obtain an FOID Card

You can start your application for an FOID card online. You’ll be prompted by the State Police site to register for a new account and fill out an application from there.

If you do not have access to a computer, you can call in your application through the Illinois State Police Customer Service Center. You can complete an application and make payments over the phone.

Once you’ve applied, you’ll receive the final step of the application by mail. This section requires you to answer questions regarding mental health and criminal history. You’ll include a recent photo and official signature.

Once verified, if you meet Illinois requirements, you can expect to receive the FOID card in about three months. You must renew the card at least 90 days in advance of its expiration date.

Changes on the Horizon in IL

Illinois Gun Laws

Several possible changes to the FOID process could result depending on which bill reaches the Governor’s desk.

Some legislation could scrap the FOID card program altogether. Backers of this route believe too many laws obstruct Second Amendment rights. Their bill would retain background checks, but the FOID requirement would change.

Other bills would keep FOID cards but streamline the process through digitizing.


About the Author

Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by Avvo (2013 and 2018), SuperLawyers (2015-2020), The National Trial Lawyers, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.