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Chicago City Wire

Friday, February 21, 2020

State Police named in first lawsuit stemming from steering of $29.5 million intended for processing of FOID cards

Crime

By April Bamburg | Feb 5, 2020

Firearms

The Illinois State Police (ISP) and two individuals have been sued by two Illinois residents, the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) and the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF).

The complaint was filed on Jan. 31, 2020 in the Eastern Division of the U.S. District Court for the Northeastern Division District of Illinois. Plaintiffs allege that the State Police, Director of ISP Brendan Kelly and ISP Firearms Services Bureau Chief Jessica Trame are unlawfully denying Illinois residents their firearm owners identification (FOID) cards by reallocating funds designated for those purposes and slowing the appeal process.

Plaintiff Ryan Thomas lived in Illinois and had a valid FOID card until 2015, when he moved to Texas. He returned his FOID card and concealed carry license (CCL) after the move. He returned to Illinois two years later and applied for a new card and license, although the FOID card and CCL he had surrendered were not yet expired. According to the court filing, Thomas has been waiting for a response from the Illinois State Police since 2017.  


Co-plaintiff Goran Lazic is another Illinois resident who is seeking reinstatement of his FOID card and CCL. On June 7, 2017, Lazic’s card and permit were revoked after he was arrested the previous month for domestic violence and physical contact. Also on June 7, that charge was dismissed, and it was expunged on Feb. 14, 2018. He has tried since then to regain his card and permit and has had no response from the Illinois State Police.

Both men have applied for an administrative appeal to the revocation of their FOID cards and concealed carry licenses. They have received no response, according to the court filing. Both men are members of the ISRA and the SAF.

The Department of Illinois State Police has, according to a September 2019 report from the State of Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, transferred or swept more than $29.5 million from the State Police Firearms Services Fund, the State Police Operations Fund, and the State Police Services Fund into other accounts. That funding was supposed to pay for administration of the FOID Card Act, background checks for firearm-related services and concealed carry licenses. These sweeps, or transfers, have caused a slowdown or halt to the processing of applications and appeals of the FOID Card Act.

Thomas and Lazic say that the erroneous deprivation of their ability to have and carry weapons legally in public could have serious consequences, that their inability to carry a gun could lead to injury if they were attacked and unable to defend themselves. They have asked the court to find that the defendants have unjustifiably denied their Second Amendment rights, to find that the defendants have denied the men their Fourteenth Amendment Rights to due process, and to order injunctive relief that requires the defendants to issue FOID cards, and award monetary damages as the court sees fit, as well as attorney’s fees and costs.

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