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Illinois FOID Screenings Ineffective, Report Claims: Mentally Unfit People Obtaining Guns

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A recent audit of Firearm Owner Identification card applications in Illinois found that huge communication gaps have allowed individuals deemed mentally unfit to obtain FOID cards and deadly weapons.

In 2010, only three of the 102 clerks in Illinois circuit court relayed information to the Illinois State Police about individuals deemed mentally unfit for firearm ownership, thereby failing to prohibit the issuance of FOID cards, according to the audit, which was released Thursday.

In light of these findings, the audit concludes that "the effectiveness of the FOID card program is limited in promoting and protecting the safety of the public," Auditor General William Holland wrote in the report.

Monique Bond, a spokesperson for the Illinois State Police, told the Illinois Statehouse News that individuals deemed "mentally defective" or "intellectually disabled" have indeed been purchasing guns and ammunition in Illinois as a result of poor communication between police and the courts.

"[The FOID] department has already been in contact with the Illinois Administrative Office of the Courts for assistance in communicating with the courts and clerks and is partnering with the Attorney General’s Office in drafting a letter to the Clerks explaining the requirement," Bond told the Statehouse News.

The report makes 12 recommendations for improving communication and screening of FOID applicants, and state police concurred on all recommendations in their response, which was published with the report.

“It’s crucial that Illinois, like other states, get all the relevant records into the system and make them accessible to make sure that dangerous people don’t get guns,” Jonathan Lowy of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence told the Statehouse News. “A background check is only as good as the records you check.”

Illinois Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) told the AP that the state police officials who run the Firearm Owners Identification program are stretched thin, and believes the 30-day window they are given to approve or deny an application is too short.

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