In response to a mass shooting in Aurora in February, the sponsor of a bill which passed in the Illinois House in the Spring session stated that more money is needed to allow the State Police to monitor the issuance of Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) cards. Senate Bill 1966 (“Fix the FOID” Act) provided a series of increased fees and other restrictions upon gun possession, among them:
- .Increased card application and renewal fees from $10 every 10 years to $20 every five years;
- A $10-per-firearm fee for any transfer conducted through a licensed dealer, with certain limited exemptions;
- The bill also requires fingerprinting, which would add an additional cost of up to $30 to the application process.
.As the sponsor said at the time:
.“When we are dealing with nearly 10,000 FOID cards annually being revoked for a number of reasons, we need to be sure we’re giving the state police the resources and ability to do their (sic) job appropriately,” said Rep. Kathleen Willis, an Addison Democrat and the bill’s House chief sponsor.
Well, Rep. Willis’ claim of inadequate resources has sort of fallen off the rails.
My colleague, Representative Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) asked the Legislative Research Unit to see if any of the money now collected for three specific purposes was being “swept” or transferred out for other State purposes. Specifically, he asked for information on sweeps or other transfers in the past 5 years from funds supporting:
- .Administration of the Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card program;
- Background checks for firearms-related services; and
- Concealed-carry licensing.
.The letter from LRU is here. The costs of these programs comes out of the “State Police Firearm Services Fund”, and it appears that since 2015, over $13 million dollars (plus an additional $15+ million from the Firearm Transfer Inquiry (FTIP) program which pays for background checks) has been swept from this fund into General Revenue, where it was spent on who knows what:
From an analysis of the data:
“The State Police has consistently not used all the money available in the Firearm Services Fund over the five years covered in this report. On average the State Police has not used $2,698,753 per year for the identified purposes in this report: administration of the FOID Program, background checks for firearm-related services, and conceal-carry licensing.”
So if the State Police isn’t spending all the money it’s getting, why does it need more? The answer is simple: it doesn’t. The ISP just didn’t object to having the “excess” swept away:
The FY2018 BIMP (Budget Implementation Bill), which authorized interfund borrowing and fund sweeps, required that money be transferred back to a fund from which it had been swept or borrowed if that fund has “insufficient cash” to support appropriated spending.
The State Police did not declare insufficient cash to maintain the mission of the Firearm Services Fund…otherwise the fund sweep of $13,210,268 would have been paid back. (Emphasis mine)
What we need to do is make sure there are no more sweeps of money out of this fund and into General Revenue. It looks like someone was asleep at the switch, but whatever the reason, this is now being used as an excuse to make it more expensive and burdensome to own a firearm in Illinois.
“We have some work to do in Illinois to make sure that firearms are only owned by law-abiding citizens,” Willis said.
.Kathy, it’s not the law-abiding citizens that you have to worry about. You need to concern yourself with criminals, who are defined as the type of person who isn’t worried about the niceties of registrations and background checks. Your comment reminds me of the line about the guy who looks for his car keys under a lamp post because the light is better.