In Illinois, a person must have a Firearm Owner Identification Card (a FOID card), to lawfully own a gun. And like many state agencies, processing time is slower during a pandemic. But it is also taking longer due to the increase in the number of people applying for FOID Cards. As reported by the Illinois State Police, FOID card applications have increased 148% from 2019 to 2020. On average, the processing is taking 70 days. But that process is even long for those with past conviction records.
Often people think a felony conviction is an absolute barrier to lawfully owning a gun. Fortunately, that is not true in Illinois. No matter your opinion on gun ownership, if Illinois had a blanket ban on lawful gun ownership, the State would have a blanket ban that disproportionately impacts people of color who are arrested and convicted at higher rates.
The first step is to apply for a FOID Card through the Illinois State Police and make sure to disclose your record. The Illinois State Police is the agency that maintains state criminal history records so have access to all criminal records, even convictions that are sealed. You will receive a notice after you apply, and depending on the type of felony conviction – and the timing – there are two different routes to go.
For many felony convictions, you submit a written appeal through the Illinois State Police. For other more serious felony convictions, you file a petition in circuit court to request the Illinois State Police issue a FOID card. And for ALL convictions, a person could always petition the Governor for a pardon that reinstated your right to own a gun. And in each situation, a person with the conviction must demonstrate how gun ownership does not impact public safety.