SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz is urging Illinois firearms owners to file paperwork early as the first wave of the 10-year Firearm Owners Identification cards come due for renewal.
"We expect tens of thousands of renewal applications to come in over the next few months," Schmitz said. "We recommend gun owners get their renewal applications in at least one to two months in advance so we have adequate time to process them and get a new card out before expiration."
More than 50,000 FOID cards are due for renewal between June 1 and Aug. 1. The General Assembly amended state law in 2008, allowing FOID cards to be valid for 10 years. The timing of the law change creates a glut of renewals this summer.
The Illinois State Police oversees the FOID card system and issues the cards that are needed to buy or possess a firearm or ammunition.
Glenn Sanders, president of the Mississippi Valley Hunters and Fishermen's Association, said this year's glut of renewals will magnify problems that happen at certain times each year.
"Even when they don't have a backlog, a lot of guys forget about checking that thing until right before hunting season. All of a sudden they're listed as having expired cards, and they're rushing around to get renewals," said Sanders, a retired sergeant with the Illinois Conservation Police who lives in Adams County.
FOID card applications involve state and federal background checks, as well as review of the database from the Illinois Department of Human Services to confirm that applicants have not been in a mental institution in the past five years.
But Sanders warned that background checks can take different amounts of time.
"Some times of the year they're almost always behind, especially around hunting season. But my wife did her renewal in the spring and got her card back in about two and a half weeks," Sanders said.
Applicants with common names also may face long waits for their FOID cards, Sanders said.
"If your name is John Smith, or some other common name, chances are there's somebody who has run afoul of the law with your name or a similar name, and they have to do more checks to make sure that wasn't you," Sanders said.
Clint Walker, an assistant manager at GameMasters, 5100 Broadway, said he has seldom seen people show up to buy guns or ammo with outdated FOID cards but has seen related problems.
"If someone is doing an address change, (the state) will put a hold on that card. Any kind of change slows things down," Walker said.
Customers also show up to ask for FOID applications, but Walker said that process is done online.
State Police already have sent renewal notices to people whose cards will expire June 1.
Applicants can visit the ISP's Firearm Services Bureau website at ispfsb.com to renew online. The cost of the card is $10. Applicants must be Illinois residents and include their Illinois Drivers License or State ID card number. Applicants under the age of 21 must have a parents' signature on the application.
Anyone who needs assistance with FOID card renewal, and those who prefer paper applications, can call 217-782-7980 and select menu option 0.
Applicants should make sure the name and address on FOID applications match the records on file for them at the Secretary of State's Office, otherwise the renewal process will be delayed.