Americans bought firearms in record numbers, including over 5 million who were first-time gun owners. However, many are still denied the opportunity to exercise their Second Amendment rights because of the delays in processing their permit applications.
Some states are notorious for delaying firearm owners from exercising their Second Amendment rights. For example, there's a backlog of over 142,000 FOID applications and 26,000 concealed carry permit applications in Illinois. However, Illinois State Police (IST) assures residents that the problem would be solved soon, but it's been going on for months.
IST cites COVID-19 as the reason for the delays. However, the state was struggling long before the crisis hit. The police department hired more staff and extended the validity of FOIDs by 18 months to give new applications a chance. However, George Floyd and subsequent riots exacerbated the situation.
The legal dilemma caused by the extension of FOID cards' validity also complicated firearms and ammunition purchasing. State Sen. Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo) said that firearm dealers refused to sell to his constituents because of expired FOIDs despite them being aware of the extension of FOID cards' validity.
"The problem that a lot of my constituents are having is firearms dealers and businesses are not accepting the FOID cards that are expired, even though they know ... that the state of Illinois has said, hey, they're still good beyond the expiration date," Sen. Schimpf said during the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules hearing.
On contacting the state police, firearm owners were informed that their FOID cards remained valid until the projected expiry date. This situation left gun owners confused and without ammunition. According to Sen. Schimpf, the legal dilemma forces gun retailers to play safe to avoid the liability of selling firearms and ammunition to people with expired documents.
"I know that they're worried about liability," Sen. Schimpf said. "And so, (the rule) might say that they're okay, but the law says you can't do it, and the executive order overrides the law. It is a big quagmire. Plus, the fact that these people can't buy ammunition in Illinois," said Richard Pearson, the executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association.
At least 12 lawsuits originated from the delays in processing the applications. In one case, a resident has waited for three years without any explanation from the Illinois State Police. This is despite the law requiring the authorities to approve or deny applications within 30 days.
A similar problem exists in North Carolina. Gun owners have to wait up to one year despite the law directing local authorities to process all applications within 14 days.
In Pennsylvania, citizens have to wait up to 18 months to receive their concealed carry permits. In Philadelphia, the law sets a maximum waiting period of 45 days. Some residents were told to wait until 2022 leading to lawsuits indicating that the applicants' Second Amendment rights were violated.
Horrible things could happen while the residents wait for their applications to clear. The delays are also unfair to law-abiding citizens, considering that criminals do not face such delays when procuring illegal firearms.
The season is fast approaching for hunters, and many will be locked out for lacking the necessary documentation. Firearm retailers will also lose potential customers, especially in states which require permits for firearm purchases.
Although COVID-19 may be partly to blame, authorities must find solutions to overcome these challenges to ensure that citizens' constitutional rights are upheld. Besides, many anti-gun authorities exploit the crisis to impose de-facto gun control using COVID-19 as an excuse.
Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is pushing universal background checks in our state, and if left unchecked, it will not be long until we see bills like this getting traction in Austin. Texas is embarrassingly ranked 29th for gun rights, and with the help of the political elites in Austin, we will surely rank among New York, California, and Illinois if left to their own devices. Please join our fight today, and help us restore Texas' place as the standard for the U.S.
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