National Lawsuits Look to Void The FOID Everywhere in America

Multiple lawsuits converge in an attempt to finally rid Illinois and elsewhere of the unconstitutional mandate.

Published Thursday, June 6, 2019 5:00 pm
Gun Rights Watch article by GRW Chief Editor

A slew of national gun rights advocacy groups have all jointly filed a lawsuit against the state of Illinois for its FOID card law, which has recently seen egregious and overreaching restrictions attempted to be added to its already overly strict requirement (SB1966).

According to the Firearms Policy Center's official announcement, they are joined by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Millennial Policy Center, Independence Institute, Professor Carlisle Moody of the College of William and Mary, State’s Attorneys Stewart J. Umholtz & Brandon J. Zanotti, along with as Second Amendment Law Professors Robert Cottrol, Nicholas Johnson, Nelson Lund, Joseph Olson, Glenn Reynolds, and Gregory Wallace.

The case stems from the previous People v. Brown decision, in which a woman kept a .22 rifle in her home but did not have a state-issued FOID card. The prosecution conceded that she was eligible for an FOID card and did not misuse the firearm that they knew of. Reports say that one person accused her of firing the rifle into the air, but multiple witnesses disputed that claim and an expert determined that there was no evidence that the gun had been fired.

...shall not be infringed.The district court judge ruled that the FOID Act was unconstitutional in regards to the licensing and taxing requirement to be in possession of a firearm or ammunition in your own home. Bizarrely though, the judge ruled that the decision pertained only to Ms. Brown and would not allow residents of the rest of the state to enjoy the same protection — a conclusion that more than a few have noted is a direct violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The IL Attorney General has appealed the case to the IL Supreme Court.

The current FOID card is valid for 10 years for a $10 fee. It must be updated every 10 years as long as the holder owns a firearm and must be carried on their person at all times when the firearm is present in the vicinity. A few sharp individuals have pointed out that the FOID should be unconstitutional for this reason alone since it cannot be carried while showering.

The suit alleges that the law is overly burdensome on a number of levels and has never had any positive effect on crime levels, nor has it ever served any beneficial purpose other than to make life harder for lawful gun owners.

Some local Illinois legal analysts have suggested that the case won't get to the Illinois Supreme Court until October sometime. When it does, it'll be interesting to see whether the Illinois Supreme Court is likely to affirm the trial court's finding.  Given the political makeup of the Illinois Supreme Court, we suspect that the odds at this point favor reversal and an upholding of the FOID law based purely on the politics of it alone. From there, it could go to the US Supreme Court for a showdown.

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The Illinois Supreme Court could:

  1. Uphold the statute in its entirety,
  2. Strike only the fee mandate and uphold the rest of the statute,
  3. Or completely strike the statute in its entirety.

Right now there is little to do but wait for the appeal and the decision if the FOID isn't totally stricken. Luckily, the case goes straight to the Illinois Supreme Court, making a decision from them come more quickly. That decision could very well not be given until some time in 2020, however.

If the FOID issue makes it all the way to SCOTUS and they strike it down, that would almost certainly also take down the FOID in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Hawaii — while quite possibly striking down a number of other provisions in numerous other states at the same time.

Comment and legal opinions for this story were gathered from a variety of sources, including Illinois Carry.