Illinois state Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) says there is no great mystery as to why Democratic lawmakers in Springfield would secretly divert millions from one fund to other areas of government over extended periods of time.
“It’s a typical way Democrats operate – the way they have balanced their budgets over the years,” Caulkins told the Chambana Sun. “Sweeping funds from anywhere they can find them is common. We used to do the same thing with the road fund and had to pass a constitutional amendment to stop it.”
State lawmakers reportedly funneled some $30 million intended for the Illinois State Police to facilitate gun registrations, concealed-carry licensing and other services to other areas of government over the last five state budgets. Caulkins insists it will take something just as drastic to try to set things right.
Illinois state Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur)
“I have a bill to file to put an amendment on the ballot that would put all fees paid for FOID cards and conceal-and-carry licenses into a lockbox,” Caulkins said. “I’m hoping that we can get enough support for this once we get back in session to get it on the ballot in November.”
According to Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) Executive Director Richard Pearson, the deception was only uncovered when ISRA officials decided to probe how FOID card and concealed-carry programs are managed through attempts by anti-gun groups to enact legislation that would have more than doubled FOID card fees. In Caulkins' view, that only makes the offense more egregious.
“We’re talking about people’s Second Amendment rights,” Caulkins said. “This is money paid into this fund for processing FOID and conceal-carry cards and now we’re hearing that the State Police can’t meet their statutory requirements to do processing because they don’t have the money. They don’t have it because it’s been stolen.”
Caulkins, however, remains hopeful that his bill will gain the support of at least some fair-minded Democrats.
“There are lots of Democrats that support the right of people to exercise Second Amendment rights and my appeal is, 'Don’t you want these people to go through the process and be legal?'” he said. “We owe it to them. If the state is going to require that you own a FOID card in order to own a gun, then we have to have the same level of commitment to putting the proper channels in place that allow you to do that.”