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SAF/ISRA lawsuit in Illinois: Who’s to blame for the delay/denial of rights?

Updated: May 20, 2020

We’ve all heard by now that the Illinois State Rifle Association and the 2nd Amendment Foundation have filed suit against the Illinois State Police. The suit talks about the $29,000,000+ of fund sweeps and ties it in to unreasonable delays in FOID card processing. Well, the ISP fired back on Tuesday:

“The sweeping of funds has denied qualified Illinois citizens their rights and the ability to defend themselves and their families,” SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb said in the release. “Because of this practice, ISP processing of FOID and concealed carry applications has slowed to a crawl, allowing paperwork to languish. That’s not just poor performance, it’s pathetic.”
ISP spokesperson Beth Hundsdorfer, however, said in a statement the ISP does “not have the authority to ‘sweep’ funds.”
“In 2015 and 2018, $13.2 million was swept from the Firearms Service Fund into the general fund during the budget crisis. Under the current fiscal year, funds have not been swept, allowing the Firearms Services Bureau to start filling 17 analyst vacancies, procure technology to offer better customer service and to begin building a new Appeals Bureau,” she said.

She does make a point. The ISP doesn’t sweep the funds, legislators do (and did). Matter of fact, the ISP testified in May of 2019 about that (legislators being at fault) in regards support of SB1966 (also known as the Fix the FOID Act). From the Trace (Michael Bloomberg’s/Everytown’s media outlet):

“We’re always against the clock,” State Police Lieutenant John Thompson told members of Tuesday’s House committee, lamenting how lawmakers had rebuffed his agency’s past requests for fee increases. The unit that handles FOID card applications, he added, “is regularly on mandated overtime.”

Rep. Kathleen Willis (the brain behind SB1966) also stated that the agency was broke during that same hearing in May. From the State Journal-Register:

Willis said the purpose of the bill is to “keep up” with FOID revocations and create better communication between local and state law enforcement agencies.
“One of the reasons that we saw that revocations were not followed up as best as they could was because there was no money in resources to be able to do that,” Willis said.

In the same article/hearing, Lieutenant Thompson also said this:

State Police Lt. John Thompson testified Tuesday about the challenges his agency faces with the limited funds it receives for FOID revocation enforcement.
He said the fee of $10 for 10 years isn’t enough to sustain the nearly 1,000 applications the department receives daily.
“We’re running a very, very basic operation, and it’s not what’s expected of us and we need to do better,” Thompson said.

Now, what’s the truth? Here’s the truth:

2017-2018 here:

What about 2019?

The truth is, besides the fund sweeps that legislators used to fund other funds/projects not in relation to the RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS, only a fraction of the money set aside for FOID/CCL was used. The Illinois State Police fund for FOID/CCL has had lapsed balances for years! We covered this on 12/2 (along with the 2018 fund sweep of $7.2 million).

The reason for the lawsuit filed on 1/31 states that

Thomas has been fighting the system for nearly three years. He had previously held a FOID card and carry license, but lost them simply because he moved out of state for a while. Since his return, to be closer to his children. Lazic had a FOID and CCL appeal pending since 2017 when a charge against him was dismissed and later expunged. “It is inexcusable that the ISP has simply allowed these cases to gather dust,” Gottlieb said. “Denial of rights under color of law is an abomination to the Second and 14th Amendments of the Constitution and Illinois state law. ISP has had plenty of time to do the right thing, and didn’t. Now we’re asking the court to make them do it.”

The State Police blames lack of funds and lawmakers not funding them. Lawmakers blame lack of funds (that they sweep and create the problem) and the State Police, thus wanting to enact draconian legislation that target legal gun owners. The truth is both the State Police and lawmakers are at fault for the denial of rights. This FEDERAL lawsuit is a slam dunk if played right, as there is no financial reason the State Police is unable to do their job with the budget they have and lawmakers have no reason to demand more money out of legal Illinois gun owners from funds they steal/borrow out of anyways.

Update 2/6:

The ISRA sent out their Thursday Bulletin a little over an hour ago. In it an important revelation was made:

The Governor does have the power to sweep funds but the people in charge of the funds have a right to protect and ask that these funds not be swept.  This apparently was never done.  Both Governor Quinn and Governor Rauner swept the funds.  At this time, Governor Pritzker has not swept any funds of the State Police.  The funds are there to make sure law-abiding citizens can exercise their Constitutional Second Amendment rights.  Instead it was used to deny the Second Amendment rights of the citizens.  Regarding the FOID, you couldn’t purchase a firearm or ammunition without the FOID card.  In the case of the delayed ICCLs, the ISP said you were okay to carry, but some local jurisdictions arrested concealed carry holders anyway. 

Uh oh, it looks like ISP spokesperson Beth Hundsdorfer from the beginning of this article might be slightly mistaken. They can’t sweep the funds themselves, BUT they could try and prevent it from happening.


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