Gun Possession in Illinois – FAQ

Every state has unique gun laws, so it’s important to understand your rights and restrictions when it comes to gun ownership. We’ve compiled a list of FAQs to help you understand your rights when it comes to owning and carrying a firearm in the state of Illinois.

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What’s the first step in obtaining a firearm in Illinois?

In order to obtain a firearm, an Illinois resident must first apply for a Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) card, unless specifically exempted by Illinois law. During the FOID application process, the state conducts a personal background check to determine if there are any prohibiting factors that would prevent an individual from possessing a firearm.

How do I obtain a FOID application?

Simply follow this link, which will redirect you to the Illinois State Police website, where you’ll find the FOID Application.

How much does a FOID card cost?

There is a $10 non-refundable processing fee associated with the FOID application process.

I own ammunition, but not a firearm. Do I still need a FOID card?

Yes. Under current Illinois laws, it is illegal to possess a firearm or ammunition without a FOID card.

How long is a FOID card valid for?

A FOID card is valid for 10 years from the date of issuance.

At what age can I legally apply for a FOID card?

A person can apply for a FOID card at any time, but if they are under the age of 21 they must have notarized consent from a parent or legal guardian. The legal guardian must also possess a FOID card before they can provide consent for a minor. In addition, anyone applying for a FOID under the age of 21 may not have any misdemeanors on their record other than a traffic offense or adjudged delinquent.

Do I need a FOID card to bow hunt?

Since a bow or crossbow is not considered a firearm, an Illinois resident does not need a FOID card to own a bow.

What type of convictions would prevent me from obtaining a FOID card?

Current Illinois law states that anyone who has been convicted of a felony is ineligible to apply for a FOID card. Also, any person who has been convicted of an assault/battery charge or other domestic violence charge is ineligible to possess a FOID card.

Ok, I have my FOID card. Now can I apply for a firearm?

In most cases, yes. You must be 18 years of age to purchase a “long gun” and 21 years of age to purchase a handgun. Illinois law requires firearms dealers to withhold the delivery of a handgun for 72 hours, and long guns such as a shotgun or rifle must be held for at least 24 hours from the date of purchase. This process gives officials enough time to complete the necessary background checks.

Can I drive with my gun in my car?

You may travel with a firearm in your vehicle as long as you follow three important rules. Failure to do so can result in a felony. To carry a firearm in your vehicle, the firearm must be transported:

  • Unloaded
  • Enclosed in a case
  • By a resident with a valid FOID card

What’s the safest way to transport a weapon?

Although it is legal to travel with your assembled weapon in an unzipped case with ammunition in the case, the Illinois State Police department recommends breaking down your weapon when you travel, fully zipping the case, and keeping ammunition in a separate or secure location. Not only is this the best way to exhibit your safety measures if you are stopped by an officer, it also makes it safer for anyone who may enter your car.

A buddy of mine is coming from out of state to hunt with me. Do the same rules apply as they transport a weapon over state lines?

Because they are coming from out of state, Illinois law requires anyone entering the state to take extra steps when transporting a firearm. In addition to being unloaded, enclosed in a case and transported by a FOID card carrier, the firearm must be broken into a non-functioning state and must not be immediately accessible.

What is considered immediately accessible?

There is no exact measurement for a gun to be considered immediately accessible, but the law states that a gun is immediately accessible if a reasonable person would conclude that it is in “relatively quick reach”. When in doubt, put the gun in a place that cannot be reached from the driver’s seat.

What’s up with conceal and carry in Illinois?

Illinois is currently in the midst of reviewing its conceal and carry policy. In December of 2012, the state voted “No” to conceal and carry in Illinois. But, the ban is set to be lifted in June 2013. Because of this, the high court in Illinois gave the state 180 days to draft new conceal and carry legislation. If no new laws are passed before June, the average FOID carrying citizen can legally possess a concealed weapon in public.