FOID Frustration

Is The Illinois Gun Owner Card Requirement Constitutional?
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In Illinois, if you have one of these, you also better have an FOID card.
A long-running court case is challenging the constitutionality of that mandate.

For what seems like the umpteenth time, a case which could ultimately find the Illinois statutory requirement that every gun owner in the state have a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card is unconstitutional, is back to ground zero. Maybe because the Prairie State courts are reluctant to address the central issue.

At least, that’s one theory.

The FOID card has always struck me as one more sign lawmakers in Illinois consider the right to keep and bear arms nothing more than a government-regulated privilege. Driving is a privilege. Owning a gun is a right protected by the U.S. Constitution, and by Article I, Section 22 of the Illinois State Constitution, which reads: “Subject only to the police power, the right of the individual citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Requiring a special government-issued card to exercise a fundamental individual right seems like an infringement to a lot of Illinois residents. Ask anybody from the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) — especially the people who annually participate in IGOLD (aka Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day) — if they believe the FOID card, a) accomplishes anything in terms of crime prevention, and, b) is an unnecessary burden on their right to keep and bear arms.

ISRA and the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) brought this case and are funding it, with Lombard, Illinois attorney David Sigale handling the court fight.

Recently, the Illinois 5th Circuit State Court of Appeals issued a unanimous ruling which reversed and remanded a pending case known as People v. (Vivian Claudine) Brown, who was charged way back in May 2017 with having a rifle in her home, without having a FOID card.

Stop right here. We’re talking about a case which has been bouncing up and down like a Yo-Yo in the Illinois court system for more than six years. In April 2021, a circuit judge in White County ruled the FOID requirement is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment.


In most places, especially west of the Mississippi River, if one were to
suggest you need a permission slip from the state police to own this
Colt King Cobra, or any other firearm, you might just start a fight.

In June 2022, the Illinois State Supreme Court vacated and remanded an appeal in this case, for the second time, as noted in the first paragraph: “This is the second time this case has come before us on direct appeal. In People v. Brown … this court vacated the judgment of the circuit court of White County and remanded the cause with directions to enter a specific order. On remand, however, the circuit court concluded it would not be in the ‘best interests of justice’ to follow this court’s directions and entered a different order. Because the circuit court had no authority to set aside the directions of this court and enter a different order, we must again vacate and remand.”

And just last month, they were at it, again. This time, SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb observed, “Hopefully, this time around, we won’t see the case bogged down by more procedural issues which have allowed the court to avoid addressing the main issue at hand, which is whether the FOID card requirement actually passes constitutional muster.”

And just last month, they were at it, again. This time, SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb observed, “Hopefully, this time around, we won’t see the case bogged down by more procedural issues which have allowed the court to avoid addressing the main issue at hand, which is whether the FOID card requirement actually passes constitutional muster.”


Dragging It Out

Don’t be alarmed at the way this case has been tied up on “procedural issues” because this is almost routine for courts which just might want to avoid “cutting to the chase,” that is, a ruling nullifying the FOID mandate. As with other gun control laws, the FOID requirement is one to which anti-gunners cling as though it were ordained by the heavens. Gun haters just cannot let go of a rule allowing them power over others.


Dave is all-too-familiar with dragged-out court cases involving gun rights.
He lives in Washington, where a federal lawsuit challenging a gun control
initiative has been lingering in court since 2018. And, no, he doesn’t have a FOID card.

Case in point: In November 2018, voters in Washington state approved a citizen initiative prohibiting young adults from buying semi-automatic rifles and also requiring adults over age 21 to prove they’ve had a firearms safety course within the past five years before they can buy one of these guns. SAF and the National Rifle Association promptly sued in federal court, where the trial judge ruled against them, and they appealed to the Ninth U.S Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The case is still gathering dust, but could now be energized because of last year’s Supreme Court ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.

Can anyone not conclude courts are fighting tooth and nail to delay what many believe is inevitable; that the Second Amendment means what it says, and that many current laws simply do not pass the smell test? Even now, 15 years after the Heller ruling in 2008 and 13 years after the McDonald decision of 2010, some judges in some courts appear to be stubbornly refusing to be guided by either of those opinions. Now, with last year’s Bruen ruling, many courts seem content to get bogged down in legal minutia just to stall.

In the case of Vivian C. Brown, all she did was have a rifle in her home. There was no effort to pack a gun outside of her residence. So, for the past six years, she’s been at the center of a case which could topple decades of gun control in Illinois.


What About FOID?

If anyone wants to find out what living in “free America” is like, just ask someone in, say, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and a handful of other western states how they’d react if suddenly they were required to carry a FOID card.

There’s a phrase many in the gun rights movement have used over the years: “This is the United States, not a police state.” One should not need government permission, even in the form of a card in the wallet, in order to exercise a constitutionally enumerated right. One should not fear prosecution for exercising a right, especially in one’s own home. It’s a powerful argument.

There is no way of accurately predicting how the state high court will eventually come down on the FOID legal battle. It is guaranteed, however, the process will be educational, and maybe even frustrating for one side or the other.


This only looks like a stag-handled sixgun. In reality, according to the CDC, it’s a public health menace.

Let’s see a show of hands. How many people believe so-called “gun violence” (is this any different than “knife violence?”) is a public health crisis?

It’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been insisting on for years. Back in 2019, Gottlieb and the Second Amendment Foundation were on the defense against the same claim from the gun prohibition lobby.

At the time, Gottlieb observed, “They couldn’t sell gun control as crime control. Then, they couldn’t sell gun control as gun safety. Now, they’re trying to convince the public that gun ownership is a public health issue.

“But this isn’t about public health,” he explained in a prepared statement. “This is all about politics. They’ve repackaged their agenda, but it’s the same old snake oil in a different bottle, and their strategy is right out of the gun control playbook.”

More recently, the Washington Examiner tackled the issue, with Gottlieb telling the newspaper, “The American public at this juncture isn’t willing to give up more of their freedoms and their rights and their privileges to the government under the guise of health.”

He subsequently observed, “In [the] post-COVID era, we’ve seen the government use … health angles to gain more power and control over people. And that’s what gun control is really all about. I think it’s really played out, and I think it’s [going to] backfire on the other side.”


Insider Mailbag

Dave, you have written a few articles that look like I could have written.  What I mean is you and I have some very similar, maybe identical thoughts concerning “special guns,” or cartridges.

One is your like of the .41 Remington mag. cartridge. That is an amazing cartridge that is so… underappreciated and ignored.  Mark Hampton even recently said he could do practically anything with the .41 that he could do with the .44 mag.  Now, that is quite a statement … I have two Smith M-57s, both with six-inch barrels, both with recessed cylinders, pinned barrels and target grips. I also have a Ruger Blackhawk in .41 which maybe my best shooting handgun compared to all the others. One characteristic I have discovered is that I can hit better with any of my .41s than I can with ANY of the four .44s I have and three of those are Smith M-29s.  Recoils is not the reason either.  I’m not sure why that is, but I have read other knowledgeable people who have said the same.

The next subject of yours that caught my attention is “special project” guns. You wrote about making a gun special by having “custom modifications.” You focused of a Ruger Blackhawk, I think in .45 Colt.

I did exactly that with of the Lipsey guns, a small framed, Ruger Blackhawk in .44 spl.  Re-polished, reblued with a deep blue finish, engraved modestly and then elk antler grip panels put on it. (Grip panels, not STOCKS!!!)  It is one of my really special guns.

Thank for thinking like me on occasion.
Philip Gregory

Dave replies: Phil, you have good taste in sixguns, and calibers (to say nothing of your superb reading choices)! Actually, my “project” gun was a Ruger New Vaquero in .45 Colt, and it’s a keeper. Stay safe, shoot straight and thanks so much for reading American Handgunner’s Insider Online. I’ll endeavor to keep it interesting, just for you. Us .41 Magnum guys have got to stick together.

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