People applying for Illinois Firearm Owner's Identification cards are waiting more than 60 days as the State Police experience one of its busiest months ever processing applications, spokeswoman Monique Bond said Tuesday.
More than 70,000 FOID card applications have been received in March, Bond said, putting it on track to be the record month so far for the program.
Every month since December has seen a record number of Illinois residents applying for FOID cards. Officials say 31,249 applications were received in December. In January, 61,172 people applied for a card, and there were 56,078 applications in February. State officials noted that at the end of January the backlog on processing FOID cards was more than 70,000.
However, the state police's contention that applicants have to wait 64 days for a card is disputed by Greg Tropino Sr., president of GAT Guns in East Dundee. He told The (Elgin) Courier-News that he is hearing from his customers that it is taking them 10 to 15 weeks to receive a FOID card that gun owners in Illinois are required to have. Tropino says the cards are supposed to be in the hands of gun buyers in 30 days or less.
"When people start hearing or thinking that things might be banned, they tend to run out and buy those things while they can," Tropino suggested as the reason FOID card applications have increased.
Officials say state police received 338,610 FOID applications last year. In the first three months of 2013, applications are nearing 188,000, more than half of the applications received in 2012.
Because of the high demand, The Courier-News reports, a call made Tuesday to a customer service telephone line set up for FOID card information was on hold for 10 minutes before the caller was transferred to a recorded message that noted the high call volume and suggested calling back later. The caller was then disconnected.
FOID cards are valid for 10 years and cost $10. Applications are available at gun stores or on the Illinois State Police website and require a form and payment to be mailed to Springfield.
The card was created in 1968 as a method to identify Illinois residents eligible to purchase guns and ammunition. Data provided by state police to The (Champaign) News-Gazette indicate there about 1.5 million state residents with FOID cards.