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Surge In FOID Card Applications After Recent Violence Leads To Backlog

CHICAGO (CBS) -- In the two days after violent looting across Chicago and the suburbs, Illinois State Police saw a massive surge in applications from people who want to own guns, but processing delays are growing as well.

State police told CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey staffing is an issue, and their staff is working about 40 hours of overtime every month. They are still not able to process those cards in the 30 days required by law.

According to data obtained by CBS 2 Investigators Firearm Owner Identification Card applications soared after two recent events -- the most deadly Memorial Day weekend in years and violent looting incidents across the city and suburbs.

Applications peaked at 4,916 on June 2 -- more than the previous eight days combined.

"In times of uncertainty people will take steps to protect themselves," said Dan Eldridge, owner of Maxon Shooter's Supplies in Des Plaines, where increased demand is obvious in the empty shelves.

"It would all be long guns across there, and it's simply empty," Eldridge said, pointing to the shelves.

They are selling twice as many guns, twice as many safes, and 10 times the number of firearms training courses.

"Every single one of our classes has hundreds and hundreds of people waiting on the waiting list," said Ruth Idzik.

One problem is for those who do not have a valid FOID card.

"If you don't have a FOID card there's not much that we can do for you," said Eldridge.

Illinois law requires that a FOID card be granted within 30 days, but ISP said right now they are averaging 51 days. And that's just the average.

One suburban viewer told CBS 2 he has been waiting since March 16, just short of 90 days.

"I always get disconnected somehow. I never actually get ahold of anybody," he said.

Officials with the Illinois State Rifle Association said they have been tracking the delays for years, and they're getting worse.

"It's a denial of rights because you can't exercise your rights in Illinois without a FOID card," said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association.

And the backlog continues to build.

"It's just simply less efficient at the same time that they're getting simply buried with volume," said Eldridge.

CBS 2 asked about staffing and was told ISP's Firearms Service Bureau has made conditional offers to 10 new analysts, and they currently have 20 additional positions pending.

Several applicants also told CBS 2 that the FOID card website has been crashing, and ISP did confirm they were experiencing technical difficulties on May 30 and 31, which is likely the reason they had a drop in applications during those days.

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