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Illinois Gun Laws

In part due to the large metropolitan area of Chicago, Illinois has very restrictive and complex gun laws. All firearms purchasers must be licensed, and there is a mandatory waiting period enforced by state law. Local governments are not permitted to impose any regulations that are intended to circumvent state firearms laws. Regardless of Illinois’ restrictive gun laws, it is a “shall issue” state, and obtaining a concealed carry permit is relatively straightforward. Concealed carry permits notwithstanding, Illinois is one of the nation’s least gun-friendly states.

Illinois Gun Laws at a Glance

Handgun Carry Permit Required Yes
Waiting period firearm purchasing Yes
Waiting period before purchasing Yes
Lost and Stolen Firearm Reporting Yes
Firearms License Required for Purchasing Yes
Universal Background Check Yes
Firearm Registration No
Large Capacity Magazine Ban No
Open Carry Permitted No

Firearm License Requirements

Illinois law requires that you possess a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification (“FOID”) in order to own any firearms or ammunition.
To obtain a FOID card, you must submit an application to the Illinois Department of State Police (DSP).

This application requires that you submit:

  • A valid driver’s license or state identification card.
  • A photograph showing your head and shoulders, taken within the last 30 days.
  • An associated fee.

The DSP will check state and federal records for any past criminal offenses.
They will also search the state’s Department of Human Services mental health records to find any developmental disabilities or hospitalization information that would disqualify you from obtaining a FOID card.

FOID Exceprions

Some firearms transfers qualify as exceptions to the FOID requirements. These exceptions include:

  • Transfers as gifts to the transferor’s husband, wife, son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, father, mother, stepfather, stepmother, brother, sister, nephew, niece, uncle, aunt, grandfather, grandmother, grandson, granddaughter, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, or daughter-in-law
  • Temporary transfers occurring within the home of an unlicensed transferee, if the transferee is not prohibited from owning or possessing firearms, and the transferee believes that possession of a firearm is necessary to prevent death or bodily harm.

Background Checks

Illinois firearms dealers are required to contact the Illinois Department of State Police (DSP) to request a background check.
The DSP searches for the purchaser in criminal history records, FBI and NICS databases, and Department of Human Services mental health records. If the DSP finds no information that would prohibit the purchaser from owning a firearm, the purchaser will be approved. Whether the purchaser is approved or declined, the DSP must inform the dealer of the applicant’s eligibility within 72 hours.
Illinois law requires the DSP to report the name and address of any person to local law enforcement who attempts to purchase a firearm and is declined.
Unlicensed gun selers are not required to conduct background checks. However, sellers must be presented with the transferee’s Firearm Owner’s Identification Card.

Gun Shows

Illinois does not regulate gun shows.

Illinois Gun Show Definition "Gun show" means an event or function: (1) at which the sale and transfer of firearms is the regular and normal course of business and where 50 or more firearms are displayed, offered, or exhibited for sale, transfer, or exchange; or (2) at which not less than 10 gun show vendors display, offer, or exhibit for sale, sell, transfer, or exchange firearms. "Gun show" includes the entire premises provided for an event or function, including parking areas for the event or function, that is sponsored to facilitate the purchase, sale, transfer, or exchange of firearms as described in this Section.

In Illinois, all sellers at gun shows are required to conduct background checks on firearm purchasers.
If a dealer is unlicensed, they must request that the Illinois Department of State Police (DSP) conducts a background check on the prospective buyer. The DSP will assign an identification number to the transfer. Approved transfers are valid for 30 days.

Hardware and Ammunition Restrictions

Hardware Restrictions
Assault Weapons No state law restrictions. Assault weapons may be subject to local ordinances.
50 Caliber Rifles No restrictions.
Machine Guns Illinois bans the sale, manufacture, purchase, possession, or carrying of machine guns.
Large Capacity Magazines Illinois prohibits any person, firm, association or corporation from selling or giving any minor under the age of 16 any shells or fixed ammunition of any kind, except shells loaded for use in shotguns or for use in rifles of 22 caliber or smaller without the written consent of the parents or guardian of the minor.1
Illinois prohibits any person or entity from giving or selling ammunition to anyone under the age of 16, except shotgun shells or ammunition for use in 22 caliber rifles and smaller. The giver or seller must also have written consent from the parents or guardian of the minor.
Ammunition A FOID card is required to purchase or possess ammunition. Illinois bans the manufacture, sale, purchase, possession, or carrying of: armor piercing bullets, dragon’s breath shells, bolo shells, or flechette shells. Illinois also prohibits the manufacture, acquisition, or sale of any explosive ammunition.

Prohibited Persons

Illinois law allows the Illinois Department of State Police (DSP) to deny, seize, or revoke a FOID card if the current or potential card holder meets any of the following criteria:

  • A person under 21 who has been convicted of a non-traffic related misdemeanor.
  • A person under 21 who does not have the written consent of his or her parent or guardian to possess firearms and ammunition. Note: this parent or guardian must also qualify to have a FOID card.
  • A person who has been convicted of a felony.
  • A person who is addicted to narcotics.
  • A patient of a mental health facility within the past five years, or a patient in a mental health facility over five years ago who has not been cleared by a certified physician or clinical psychologist.
  • A person who is mentally disabled.
  • A person whose mental condition poses a clear, present danger to self or others.
  • A person who has a significantly subaverage intellectual functioning.
  • A person who is developmentally disabled.
  • A person involuntarily admitted to a mental health facility.
  • A person who has misrepresented himself or herself on the FOID card application.
  • A person unlawfully present in the United States.
  • A person admitted to the United States through a non-immigrant visa.
  • A person convicted within the past 5 years of aggravated assault, assault, battery, or violation of a protection order.
  • A person convicted of domestic battery, aggravated domestic battery, or a similar offense.
  • A person prohibited from acquiring or possessing firearms or ammunition by any state or federal law.
  • A person who is not a resident of the state of Illinois, with exceptions for law enforcement, security, or military personnel assigned in Illinois.

Prohibited Places

Location Restrictions Exceptions
Schools You may not carry any type of firearm in any elementary or secondary school. The firearm also cannot be in any vehicle within 1,000 feet of a school. Firearms that are:
  • Broken down or in a nonfunctioning state.
  • Not immediately accessible.
  • Unloaded and enclosed in a case by a person with a valid FOID card.
This does not apply to law enforcement, school security officers, or students with the consent of school authorities (typically for use in parades, courses, or other school functions.)
Vehicles You may not carry a firearm in any vehicle without a concealed carry permit. Vehicles that are:
  • On the person’s own private property or fixed place of business.
  • On the legal dwelling of another person with that person’s permission.
Firearms that are:
  • Broken down or in a nonfunctioning state.
  • Not immediately accessible.
  • Unloaded and enclosed in a case by a person with a valid FOID card.
Public Courthouses Firearms prohibited within 1,000 feet. ndividuals with concealed carry permits may store firearms in a case out of plain view within a locked vehicle.
Locations and events selling alcohol Firearms prohibited. Demonstrations involving the exhibition of unloaded firearms.

Concealed Carry Laws

Notify Officer You are not required to inform law enforcement officers that you have a concealed firearm. If an officer requests to see your FOID card and/or concealed carry license, you are obligated to comply.
“No Gun” Signs When carrying a concealed weapon, it is illegal to enter any private property that has posted “No Weapons” or “No Guns” signage.
In-Vehicle Carry With a valid concealed carry license, you are permitted to keep or carry a handgun within a vehicle.
Restaurant Carry With a concealed carry license, you are allowed to bring a concealed firearm into a restaurant. You are prohibited from carrying a concealed firearm into a bar that receives over 50% of its income from selling alcohol.
State Park Carry You may carry in: state parks, state/national forests, or state wildlife management areas. You may not carry in: state refuges, nature preserves, or roadside rest stops.
While Hunting Concealed carry permit holders may carry any concealed firearm that is of the legal type for the species being hunted.

Obtaining a Concealed Carry License

Illinois is a “shall issue” state. This means that the governing body must issue a concealed carry permit to a given applicant if certain qualifications are met. Illinois allows individuals with a valid concealed carry license to carry concealed handguns in public. A license is not needed to carry a concealed handgun on one’s own property or at a fixed place of business. A license is not needed to carry a concealed handgun on the land or home of another person, with that person’s expressed permission. Without a license, a concealed handgun may be carried in public if it is: not in working condition, not immediately accessible, or unloaded in an enclosed container by a person with a valid FOID card.

Requirements for a Concealed Carry License
  • Is 21 years of age or older
  • Has a valid FOID Card at the time of applying
  • Has completed the required firearms training
  • Has not been convicted or found guilty in any state of:
    • A misdemeanor involving the use or threat of violence within the last five years
    • Two or more violations related to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol within the last five years
  • Is not the subject of pending arrest warrant or prosecution for an offense that disqualifies the individual from firearms ownership
  • Has not been in residential or court-ordered treatment for alcoholism, alcohol detoxification, or drug addiction within the past five years
  • Has not failed a drug test for an unprescribed drug in the previous year
  • Has not been convicted of a felony

Any law enforcement agency is free to submit an objection to a license applicant based on reasonable suspicion that the applicant is a danger to himself/herself or others.

Concealed Carry Firearms Training

An applicant for a concealed carry license must provide proof of at least 16 hours of firearms training, through a DSP-approved course or program.
For active, retired, or honorably discharged United States Armed Forces members, the DSP accepts up to 8 hours as having already been completed.

For all applicants, firearms training must cover:

  • Firearm safety
  • Basic marksmanship
  • Care, cleaning, loading, and unloading of firearms
  • All applicable state and federal laws relating to ownership, storage, and carrying of a firearm
  • Instruction on the appropriate interaction with law enforcement while carrying a concealed firearm
  • Live fire exercises (with a DSP-approved target) consisting of:
    • 10 rounds from a 5-yard distance
    • 10 rounds from a 7-yard distance
    • 10 rounds from a 10-yard distance

Licenses are valid for five years from the date of issuance. Licenses can then be renewed with a renewal application and a new background check.

Concealed Carry Location Restrictions

Concealed carry licensees may not carry a concealed firearm at, on, or into:

  • Childcare facilities, pre-schools, public schools, or colleges
  • Areas under the control of a government officer or a unit of local government
  • Circuit or appellate courts
  • Adult or juvenile correctional institutions, prisons, or jails
  • Hospitals and nursing homes
  • Public transportation
  • Public gatherings that have government permits
  • Public playgrounds and parks
  • Forest preserves
  • Casinos
  • Professional or college sporting events
  • Public libraries
  • Airports
  • Amusement parks
  • Zoos and museums
  • Areas regulated by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Disclaimer: The information provided here is not to be construed as legal advice or acted upon as if it is legal advice: it is provided for informational and entertainment purposes only. While we strive to provide accurate, up-to-date content, we cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or currency of the information. Gun laws can change frequently, especially at the state and local levels. Application of gun laws can be unique to an individual’s situation. We recommend that each individual consult with a competent and qualified legal professional before purchasing, transporting, or using any firearm or firearm-related product.