A Southern Illinois judge has ruled that the Land of Lincoln's Firearm Owners Identification Card law is unconstitutional as it requires a fee for someone to exercise their right to keep and bear arms.
The case, Illinois v. Vivian Claudine Brown, concerns a White County woman who was discovered by sheriff’s deputies called to her home to have a .22 caliber single-shot rifle in her bedroom without a FOID card in her name. White County Resident Judge T. Scott Webb not only dismissed the charges against Brown but went on record ruling that the FOID card requirements are unconstitutional.
“A citizen in the State of Illinois is not born with a Second Amendment right. Nor does that right insure when a citizen turns 18 or 21 years of age. It is a façade. They only gain that right if they pay a $10 fee, complete the proper application, and submit a photograph. If the right to bear arms and self-defense are truly core rights, there should be no burden on the citizenry to enjoy those rights, especially within the confines and privacy of their own homes.”
Brown's case is backed by both the Illinois State Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation.
"The idea that an Illinois resident doesn’t enjoy Second Amendment rights until he or she pays a $10 fee for a FOID card is outrageous," said Alan Gottlieb, SAF founder and executive vice president. "Nowhere should such a mandate be allowed to stand."
The ruling, the second in the case, could clear a direct path back to the Illinois State Supreme Court concerning the constitutionality of the FOID card program.
Adopted in 1968, more than 20 years before the now-standard NICS background check system, has been under fire for years. Critics argue it is an outdated process that is ineffective at curbing the ability for criminals to get guns and have called for it to be scrapped. Proponents of the restriction say it should not only be kept but expanded to include extra checks and fingerprinting, coupled with a price increase to pay for it.
Regardless, the FOID system in its current form is overloaded, with backlogs for issued cards frequently running over 120 days from the time of application despite a legal requirement to issue them within 30 days. Valid for 10 years, renewals are also painfully slow. According to reporting last month from the Chicago Sun-Times, approximately 138,000 FOID card renewal applications were pending with the Illinois State Police at that time.