Illinois Gun Laws


Ironically, Chicago, Illinois, with famously strict gun laws, including a (prior) ban on private possession of handguns, served as the basis for SCOTUS’ 2010 decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago that Second Amendment applies to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment.

On July 9, 2013 Illinois became the last state in the country to allow citizens of the state the right to carry concealed weapons.  Possession of the permit is granted to those who are 21 or older and who pass a 16-hour training course.  Applicants may be denied a permit if the law enforcement agency finds reasonable suspicion that the applicant is a danger to themselves or others.

Illinois has water boundaries with other states, in some cases further complicating an interstate transportation and/or reciprocal carry analysis. To the north, Illinois borders Wisconsin, although the boundary line lies in Lake Michigan.  Illinois’ eastern border with Indiana is within Lake Michigan and the Wabash and Ohio Rivers. The Ohio River is the southern border with Kentucky. The western border with Missouri and Iowa is the Mississippi River.

A. State Constitution

Regarding the right to bear arms, the Illinois Constitution states:

“Subject only to the police power, the right of the individual citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”


B. Scope of Preemption

Illinois does have a preemption statute that states under Section 90:

“The regulation, licensing, possession, registration, and transportation of handguns and ammunition for handguns by licensees are exclusive powers and functions of the State. Any ordinance or regulation, or portion thereof, enacted on or before the effective date of this Act that purports to impose regulations or restrictions on licensees or handguns and ammunition for handguns in a manner inconsistent with this Act shall be invalid in its application to licensees under this Act on the effective date of this Act. This Section is a denial and limitation of home rule powers and functions under subsection (h) of Section 6 of Article VII of the Illinois Constitution.” []

It is imperative to check local cities and municipality’s ordinances regarding the carrying of a firearm, concealed or unconcealed.  Handguns have been banned in some municipalities in Illinois and certain cities require registration of firearms (e.g., Chicago) while others do not.  The Director of State Police compiles and provides these ordinances to the public free of charge

C. Reciprocal Carry

Illinois does not have an explicit reciprocity statute and restricts the possession of a firearm by law.  However, it will recognize a nonresident’s right to carry a firearm in some circumstances:

Section 40. Non-resident license applications.

“(a) For the purposes of this Section, “non-resident” means a person who has not resided within this State for more than 30 days and resides in another state or territory.

(b) The Department shall by rule allow for non-resident license applications from any state or territory of the United States with laws related to firearm ownership, possession, and carrying, that are substantially similar to the requirements to obtain a license under this Act.

(c) A resident of a state or territory approved by the Department under subsection (b) of this Section may apply for a non-resident license. The applicant shall apply to the Department and must meet all of the qualifications established in Section 25 of this Act, except for the Illinois residency requirement in item (xiv) of paragraph (2) of subsection (a) of Section 4 of the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act. The applicant shall submit:

(1) The application and documentation required under Section 30 of this Act and the applicable fee;

(2) a notarized document stating that the applicant: (A) is eligible under federal law and the laws of his or her state or territory of residence to own or possess a firearm; (B) if applicable, has a license or permit to carry a firearm or concealed firearm issued by his or her state or territory of residence and attach a copy of the license or permit to the application; (C) understands Illinois laws pertaining to the possession and transport of firearms, and (D) acknowledges that the applicant is subject to the jurisdiction of the Department and Illinois courts for any violation of this Act; and

(3) a photocopy of any certificates or other evidence of compliance with the training requirements under Section 75 of this Act; and

(4) a head and shoulder color photograph in a size specified by the Department taken within the 30 days preceding the date of the application.

(d) In lieu of an Illinois driver’s license or Illinois identification card, a non-resident applicant shall provide similar documentation from his or her state or territory of residence. In lieu of a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card, the applicant shall submit documentation and information required by the Department to obtain a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card, including an affidavit that the non-resident meets the mental health standards to obtain a firearm under Illinois law, and the Department shall ensure that the applicant would meet the eligibility criteria to obtain a Firearm Owner’s Identification card if he or she was a resident of this State.

(e) Nothing in this Act shall prohibit a non-resident from transporting a concealed firearm within his or her vehicle in Illinois, if the concealed firearm remains within his or her vehicle and the non-resident: (1) is not prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm under federal law; (2) is eligible to carry a firearm in public under the laws of his or her state or territory of residence; and (3) is not in possession of a license under this Act.  If the non-resident leaves his or her vehicle unattended, he or she shall store the firearm within a locked vehicle or locked container within the vehicle in accordance with subsection (b) of Section 65 of this Act.”


D. Duty to Inform Officers

Illinois does not require individuals to inform a LEO of a permit or license to carry but if an Officer asks about a weapon, by law, an answer must be supplied.

E. NFA Items

The only NFA items legal in Illinois are AOWs and SBR.  You must possess a Curio & Relic license in order to purchase/manufacture/own a SBR, but the rifle itself does not have to qualify as a Curio & Relic.

F. Carrying Firearms in Vehicles

Illinois generally prohibits carrying firearms in vehicles without a carry permit.  People who possess a FOID card but not a carry permit may transport firearms in their vehicle only if the firearm is unloaded and secured in a locked container, or otherwise not immediately accessible. []

G. Self-defense Laws

Illinois has a Castle Doctrine but no SYG law.  There is no duty to retreat when attacked in Your dwelling, and You may use deadly force in self-defense if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death, SBI, or the commission of a forcible felony.  Deadly force may also be used if to stop the unlawful & forcible entry into Your dwelling or residence if the entry is violent and You reasonably believe the intruder intends to commit violence against an occupant of the dwelling, or if the intruder intends to commit a felony within the dwelling.  Anyone who is justified in using force in self-defense has civil immunity from lawsuits relating to said use of force by the intruder, their family, or their estate. []

H. Criminal Provisions

To obtain a firearm in Illinois an individual must first obtain a Firearms Owner’s Identification Card (FOID), which requires passing a background check.  It is required for any person to purchase a gun or ammunition and it is unlawful to possess any firearm or ammunition without a valid FOID.  There is a 24 hour waiting period before buying a rifle or shotgun, and 72 hour waiting period before buying a handgun.

A licensee may carry a loaded or unloaded concealed firearm, fully concealed or partially concealed, in the individual’s vehicle whether loaded or unloaded and concealed.


  • A licensee must possess a license at all times while carrying a firearm except on the licensee’s land or in one’s abode or fixed place of business or in the land of another as an invitee with that persons permission
  • Assault weapons are banned in certain counties and cities
  • Cook county imposes a $25 tax on gun sales
  • Magazine restrictions are valid in certain cities

Under Illinois law, a licensee shall not knowingly carry a handgun in any of the following places or circumstances, whether the license was issued by Illinois, or the person is carrying pursuant to a reciprocity agreement between his or her state of license and Illinois.

  • Any location that firearms are prohibited from under federal law
  • Any building, property and parking under control of a public or private elementary or secondary school, pre-school or child care facility
  • Any property, including parking areas and sidewalks of a private community college, college or university
  • Any property under the control of an officer of the executive or legislative branch of government, except bikeway or trail in a park regulated by the Department of Natural Resources
  • Any building designated for court purposes or under control of a unit of local government
  • Any area under the control of an adult or juvenile detention or correctional institution, prison or jail
  • Any area under the control of a public or private hospital or hospital affiliate, mental health facility, or nursing home
  • Any form of transportation paid for, in part or whole, with public funds and any building under the control of a public transportation facility paid for, in part or whole, with public funds
  • Any place licensed to sell alcoholic beverages which consists of more than 50% of the establishments gross profits within the prior 3 months
  • Any area owned or leased by a gaming facility
  • Any stadium arena or parking area including collegiate or professional sporting events
  • Any library land
  • Any amusement park, zoo, or museum
  • Any area under the control of an airport
  • Firearms are not allowed to be stored inside a vehicle while it is located on the street, driveway, parking area, building or facility of a nuclear energy, storage weapons or development site
  • Any public gathering, excluding a place where showing, demonstration or lecture involving the exhibition of unloaded firearms is conducted
  • On any public street, alley, or other public lands/parks/playgrounds, on one’s own land, abode, or fixed place of business)
  • A firearm being transported must be either:
  • Broken down in a non-functioning state
  • Not immediately accessible; or
  • Unloaded and enclosed in a case, firearm carrying box, shipping box, or other container

For a list of places where carrying a firearm is prohibited, see: