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Gun Owner ID Cards Soar In Chicago

UPDATED 01/26/12 6:49 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) - Significantly more Chicagoans are arming themselves with guns.

As WBBM Newsradio's Regine Schlesinger reports, over the past two years, the city has seen a 16 percent spike in the number of people holding state Firearm Owner's Identification Cards.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Regine Schlesinger reports


About 122,000 people possessed FOID cards at the beginning of this year compared to 105,000 at the beginning of 2010, said Monique Bond, spokeswoman for the Illinois State Police.

Illinois residents must possess a FOID card to buy guns in the state.

Illinois State Police officials check an applicant's identification and background before issuing a card.

The uptick in FOID cards follows the City Council's approval of a July 2010 ordinance lifting a 28-year-old ban on handguns in Chicago. That followed the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the McDonald v. Chicago case, which rendered the law unenforceable.

The city ordinance requires gun owners to obtain a city gun permit, register their firearms with the Chicago Police Department and keep their guns in their homes.

The Police Department could not immediately provide the number of guns currently registered in the city. At the end of 2010, the department had approved about 1,500 Chicago firearms permits and registered about 2,750 guns.

Todd Vandermyde, a legislative liaison for the National Rifle Association, said he believes Chicagoans are getting FOID cards to comply with state law but are snubbing their noses at the city ordinance because they believe the registration process is too onerous.

"They're taking their chances with the city," he said. "It's just an ordinance violation."

Officials said the statewide number of FOID card holders and applications for cards has also risen in recent years.

As of Jan. 1, 2011, there were nearly 1.4 million FOID card holders statewide, compared to more than 1.3 million a year earlier, Bond said. That's an increase of more than 6 percent.

There were 321,000 applications for FOID cards statewide in 2011, compared about 287,500 in 2010, she added.

Vandermyde cited several reasons for the statewide rise: he thinks more women are getting guns; more people are hoping the state will pass a concealed-carry law; and more people believe the Obama administration will make it harder to get weapons in the future.

State Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg), an ardent gun rights supporter, says politics and the economy likely played a role in the rise in FOID registrations.

"I think you're seeing a lot of people that are more or less breaking into places, and I think people just want to be able to protect themselves and their families," Phelps said. "I'm going to talk to the state police to find out where the biggest increases were."

Meanwhile, some downstate lawmakers continue to push for a concealed carry law in Illinois, which is the only state that does not have some such kind of law on the books.

Phelps proposed a concealed carry law last year. It fell a few votes shy last spring, before it was pulled before the vote could be recorded.

Phelps says he'll likely call it again in March or April.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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