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Since enactment of this law in 1968, residents of the state of Illinois who want to own a firearm are required to have a Firearm Owners Identification or FOID card. FOID, the acronym, is also the common name for this card. This card is also required in Illinois for the legal purchase and carrying of a firearm by an Illinois resident. The Illinois State Police are the agency charged with the legal issuing of the FOID card. They will perform a background check on each applicant using an electronic database maintained by the FBI. This database is called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The police nationwide use this database to identify any grounds for not allowing a person a firearms id card, to disqualify that person from having the opportunity of owning a gun. Reasons for disqualification that are carried in the NICS are: any conviction for a felony, any conviction for acts of domestic violence, within the last five years any conviction for assault and or battery, or the reason for someone else receiving a protection order. The Illinois State Police also check in-state databases, in particular the database maintained by the Dept. of Human Services. This check is specifically for the person having been adjudicated as a person who is mentally defective, or having been a mental institution patient in the past five years. This state’s database for Human Services is the repository for information on any person or patient who displays threatening behavior, being suicidal or criminally violent. This information is provided by the mental health professionals who are in contact with these people. As stated before, the state police check these two major information sources as well as a number of other national or state sources. These checks are required to be completed in sufficient time so that the state police can issue or reject issuing the FOID within thirty days of logging the application as received. Since 2006, however, the state police are averaging fifty to sixty days for issuance due to its backlog. Issued cards are valid for differing terms, depending on the date of issuance. If the FOID was issued before June 1, 2008, then the card is valid for only five years. Cards issued on or after June 1, 2008 are valid for ten years. Any FOID card can and will be repossessed and invalidated if the owner is convicted or identified in any of the disqualifying situation previously described. If a person is less than 21 years of age, there are additional requirements to be fulfilled for such an applicant.
In-state use of the card by its holder is typically for the purchase of a firearm. By Illinois law, a firearm seller, be it a holder of a Federal Firearms License (FFL), or a seller at a firearms trade show, must make an inquiry to the Illinois State Police, verifying the buyer’s FOID card. This is done by phone. It is an automated search using the state’s “Firearm Transfer Inquiry Program” (FTIP). This check automatically inquires on the NICS, the mental health database, as well as several other connected information sources.