Some jobs require an employee to handle ammunition or carry a gun. To get one of these jobs, you must have a Firearm Owner's Identification ("FOID") card. This article explains how to get one, and how to appeal if you are denied.
What is a FOID card?
A Firearm Owner's Identification (or "FOID") card is required in Illinois whenever you want to possess a firearm or ammunition. This includes if you are doing these things for work.
How do I apply for a FOID card?
To apply for a FOID card, go to the Illinois State Police website. You will need:
- A valid Illinois driver's license or identification card number,
- A photograph showing your head and shoulders that was taken in the last 30 days (like a passport photo), and
- A $10.00 fee.
Am I eligible for a FOID card?
To be eligible for a FOID card, you must:
- Be 21 years old, or have the consent of a parent or guardian;
- Have a clean criminal history (except petty traffic offenses); and
- Be an Illinois resident.
You are ineligible for a FOID card if you:
- Have a felony on your record,
- Have a domestic violence felony or misdemeanor on your record,
- Are or have been addicted to narcotics (including cannabis),
- Have been a patient in a mental health facility within the past 5 years,
- Have an intellectual, developmental disability,
- Are undocumented or have a non-immigrant visa,
- Are a fugitive,
- Have been dishonorably discharged from the armed services,
- Have renounced your citizenship, or
- Have an Order of Protection, or Civil No Contact Order against you.
What if I am denied a FOID card or my FOID card was revoked?
If your application was denied, or your FOID card was revoked, you should receive a letter telling you why. The letter should also explain the appeals process.
Normally the first step is to appeal to the Director of the State Police. If you are still denied, you can file a petition with the circuit court. For general information, you can call the Illinois State Police at (217) 782-7980.
For some situations, you cannot appeal to the Director. You must go directly to filing your petition with the circuit court.
Appealing to the Director of the State Police
You will have to send in an appeal form. You will also have to include evidence as to why the reason you were denied is not right. To do this, you must meet your "burden of proof." A burden of proof is how much evidence will be enough to win your case. You must appeal to the circuit court in your county of residence, not to the Illinois State Police. For example, in a criminal case, the government must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a very high burden of proof. When it comes to appeals to the Director, there are different burdens of proof depending on the basis for denial or revocation.
Appealing a denial or revocation based on mental health or intellectual disability
You can appeal to the Director if you were denied because of a mental illness or intellectual disability. You must show that:
- You are unlikely to endanger public safety;
- You having a FOID card is not bad for the public in general; and
- You having a FOID card is not against the federal law (see below).
You will need to show that things have changed since the event that led to your denial.
Your burden of proof is called "by a preponderance of the evidence." This is a relatively low burden of proof. You have to show that the two statements above are 51% likely to be true.
To meet your burden of proof, you should submit an affidavit discussing the circumstances of the event that led to your denial. You should also submit 2 affidavits from other people that explain why you should have a FOID card.
You should also submit all records concerning mental health treatment or counseling, as well as criminal history records.
Finally, you should get a forensic mental health evaluation. Talk to a mental health facility about this. This can sometimes take hours to complete, and be very costly.
Appealing a denial or revocation based on something other than mental health or intellectual disability
If your denial or revocation was due to something other than mental health or intellectual disability, you will have to show the same three statements above are true. The difference is the burden of proof.
The burden of proof for this type of appeal is called "clear and convincing evidence." This is higher than “preponderance of evidence.” You must show that the statements above are substantially more true than not. In other words, there is a high probability that the statements are true.
To meet your burden, you will have to submit substantial evidence. You should submit an affidavit discussing the circumstances of the event that led to your denial. You should also submit 3 affidavits from other people that explain why you should have a FOID card. For example, how you are safe when handling firearms, have never used a firearm in a threatening manner, and so on.
Filing a petition in the circuit court
If your appeal to the Director of the State Police is denied, you can file a petition in circuit court.
In some situations, you cannot appeal to the Director. You must go directly to filing your petition in circuit court. This includes people with felonies and crimes involving stalking, domestic battery, drug offenses, and the use of a weapon. This includes juvenile offenses.
The process is similar to the process of appealing to the Director of the State Police above. The difference is that you will go to a hearing instead of sending all of your materials in by mail.
If you are successful, the judge will order the Director of State Police to issue the person a FOID card. If unsuccessful, the trial court will deny the petition. You can then appeal to the Illinois Court of Appeals.
You cannot get a FOID card if it is against federal law. If you have a felony or domestic violence charge on your record, federal law says you cannot have a FOID card.
You cannot get a FOID card if you have a felony conviction on your record, including (forcible felony, stalking, aggravated stalking, domestic battery, any violation of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act, or the Cannabis Control Act that is classified as a Class 2 or greater felony, any felony violation of Article 24 of the Criminal Code of 1961 or the Criminal Code of 2012, or any adjudication as a delinquent minor for the commission of an offense that if committed by an adult would be a felony.)
However, you may be able to expunge the conviction if the sentence was First Offender Probation, TASC Probation, or Second Chance Probation. These types of convictions can be expunged, unlike most other convictions. You also may be able to expunge it if this has been authorized by the Governor after a pardon ("executive clemency"). Learn about expungement here.
Sealing the conviction will not help because the Illinois State Police will still be able to see the record.
If you have a domestic violence conviction on your record, you cannot get a FOID card. Domestic violence includes any actual, attempted, or threatened use of force committed against someone who is related by blood, marriage, or residency.
This includes both misdemeanors and felonies. It does not matter what the offense is actually called. For example, a conviction for “disorderly conduct” would not disqualify you under Illinois law, but under federal law, it could still count as domestic violence if there was a threat of force against a related person.
Again, the conviction might be able to be expunged if the sentence was First Offender Probation, TASC Probation, or Second Chance Probation.
Updated: May 2018