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FOID backlog frustrates local gun owners, businesses

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Local gun owners are frustrated, due to a hold up with firearm owner ID cards.

Illinois State Police said they're working to reduce tens of thousands in backlogged FOID requests, but it's going to take time.

Business owners said owning and using a gun is turning into a lengthy and frustrating process in Illinois.

"They kind of expect us to have the answers and we've had lots of frustrated customers," Game Masters Customer Service Manager Heidi Gustison said.

"Supposedly there's a pile of paperwork over there somewhere that they just can't get to," Great River Firearms Training Owner Robert McClintock said.

The problem is FOID cards. The card needed to legally possess or purchase firearms or ammunition in the state.

"Customers come in and are ready to renew their card, they realize it's expiring in 10 days, 30 days or tomorrow and obviously there's some lag time now with that," Gustison said.

Illinois State Police said they're working to reduce tens and thousands in backlogged FOID card requests. As of this week, ISP said the agency has 62,000 pending FOID card applications or renewals.

McClintock said it's impacting many of his customers.

"They come in a little hot because a firearm they had planned on bringing, it wasn't available," McClintock said.

Business owners said it's supposed to take 60 business days, but it's taking several months and if you have an expired FOID card, you can't legally purchase or possess a firearm.

"It is kind of uncomfortable for customers who have an expired FOID card," Gustison said.

However, McClintock said ISP is aware of the problem.

"They do give you a little break," McClintock said. "They know they're behind, so if you have applied before your license runs out, your old license is still good until your receive your new one. You just have to keep the receipt and your old license."

Business owners said the best advice they can offer gun users is to check the date on your license and renew it as soon as you can. But, you can only renew if it expires in the next three months.

The WGEM News Capitol Bureau in Springfield, Illinois, reached out to ISP to get additional information on the problem.

Chief Public Information Officer Beth Hundsdorfer said "The number of applications is not indicative of a backlog as applications are received on a daily basis and are at different stages of review and processing."

Hundsdorfer added, "We receive nearly 25,000 applications each month. However, we are working to address the significant number of applications we receive by filling staffing vacancies. Current staff also work overtime to process applications. We are also currently in the process of revamping the website to make it more user-friendly."

Hundsdorfer also said "Implementation of the VoIP solution continues and the system should be implemented by Spring 2020. The solution will provide much-needed improvements and efficiencies to the Call Center."

Hundsdorfer stated the VoIP solution will ease the process as far as the application itself is concerned. This improvement is aimed at assisting citizens who have questions or need to handle a particular issue. 

However, it will have an indirect impact on applications and processing, as well. The new VoIP system allows for not only automated processes, such as completing an application without having to speak to an agent, it is also interactive. It will populate their computer with information ahead of receiving a caller, to better and more quickly assist them. 

The call flow allows callers to select their specific issues and potentially resolve them without speaking to an agent. 

The system will also enable a person to request a call back without having to remain on the line. 

In addition, it will provide callers the ability to renew a FOID card or Concealed Carry License (CCL) with no address change over the phone, including payment, without speaking to a live agent.

In the meantime, you can contact ISP by phone, email or website, if you're having any troubles getting your card renewed.

Kara Biernat

Kara Biernat is a MultiMedia Journalist for WGEM News.

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