Last week on 12/2, we published an article with some findings regarding the State Police Firearms Service Fund and what was (or wasn’t) being done with it. It went semi-viral and was sourced on 12/5 in The Truth About Guns and also at Guns Save Life (in which they are actually in the appeal process of an ongoing challenge to the FOID card). It seems to have caught enough attention for the Illinois State Rifle Association to come forward on 12/10 with very similar findings that they were working behind closed doors on in more detail over the period of a few months (great to see they were already on it behind the scenes!), confirming it‘s all real and something that should be raising eyebrows. So here’s some more to possibly review that raises some points: A case that was settled in 2018, People v. Stevens:
The case itself is less important than what’s in it. Let’s look at what it says:
It is constitutional to impose licensing fees when they are designed to meet the expense incident to the administration of the Illinois State Police Firearms Service Bureau and to the maintenance of public order in the matter licensed
Imposing fees on the exercising of constitutional rights is permissible when the fees are designed to defray (AND DO NOT EXCEED) the administrative costs of regulating the protected activity. The licensing fee MUST serve the legitimate purpose of defraying the expenses incident to the administration and enforcement of the licensing statute.
Not much needs to be said there. This is not to be used as a slush fund or for “fund sweeping”. Surplus/unused funds is meant purely for law enforcement to improve LEADS and background checks (see! It’s not broken!! They‘re just using (or not using) the money for other things, as we all now know!). Take note of the top part Of the red box as well (out of state fees for concealed carry permits cost $300, and $250 goes into this fund. Does it really take up that many more resources to run a check on someone out of state and mail them the card????).
Another article that was published after the Illinois State Rifle Association went public with their stuff on the 10th:
Lawmakers diverted nearly $30 million over the past five years from Illinois State Police funds to cover other government spending, something a statewide gun-rights group said was unacceptable.
About 2.3 million Illinoisans hold a Firearm Owners' Identification Card that allows them to buy and own firearms. The card costs $10 for 10 years with $6 going to the Wildlife and Fish Fund, $3 to the State Police Firearm Services Fund and $1 for the State Police Services Fund.
Concealed carry licenses cost $150 for five years. Of that, $120 goes to the State Police Firearm Services Fund, $20 goes to the Mental Health Reporting Fund and $10 goes to the State Crime Laboratory.
The State Police Firearm Services Fund is meant to administer the state’s Firearm Owner Identification Card law, conduct background checks for firearms-related services and concealed-carry licensing.
A memo from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability sent to state Rep. Kieth Wheeler, R-Oswego, in September showed that in fiscal years 2015 through 2019 more than $13 million was swept from the State Police Firearm Services Fund for other purposes.
State lawmakers have often used fund sweeps to shore up spending in other areas.
Under Rep Kathleen Willis’s SB1966, FOID card fees will increase from $10 to $20, $15 of which will go to the fund. As many know, this bill is waiting for a vote in the IL Senate for when the ILGA session starts next year.
Seems to be pretty clear (under the state of Illinois’s own arguments/examples against Stevens in People v. Stevens) that taking money out of the State Police Firearms Service Fund for things other than it‘s purpose is not allowed for more reasons that just Illinois law (laugh) regarding the fund itself. It also seems that by imposing licensing fees that are not being used for the intended purpose of what the fees are supposed to go towards in order to exercise a right may very well be “unconstitutional“, as the money being collected through the FOID/CCL (and also from the taxpayers of the state) is not being used appropriately. Further, they can’t “make money” off of us for exercising our rights (example is the price of an out of state concealed and carry license, double that of a resident, and the bulk of it goes into the fund). They can only collect enough to cover the costs of maintaining the system and not a penny more (which after all of these revelations, will need to be under a microscope, as the fund hasn’t been used correctly at all). With the amount of money being diverted for other purposes from the State Police Firearms Services Fund, raising fees in order to fund it more (such as SB1966) is “unconstitutional“. Thoughts?
This is all such a mess. The obvious solution is to dump that FOID system all together to prevent further financial abuse on Illinois residents‘ exercising their rights. Most of all, the incident in which the reason for SB1966 being a thing (the Aurora shooting on 2/15/19), the Illinois government failed and should be held responsible for not using the money in the SPFSF for its intended purposes. See attached these FOIA documents from J.B. Pritzker’s administration dated 2/16/19:
Quick additional note: you may notice in the first page of court documents listed that the case Kwong v Bloomberg is used for the reason behind being able to charge a fee for a constitutional right (and was settled in that case that it can’t be for profit of the state or fees collected used for other purposes). That case is actually being used as an argument of the law being unconstitutional/unreasonable by the NYSRPA in the current SCOTUS case that is currently under way:
As many know, that case is about WAY more than just firearms transportation (and if NYSRPA wins, guess what can possibly happen as a result? There’s a reason the anti-gunners are terrified of this case.....)