Illinois Gun Laws in 2021: What’s Illegal?

Important Gun Laws in Illinois

Illinois is a shall-issue state, which means that if an applicant meets certain requirements, the Illinois State Police must issue a concealed carry license. However, unlike other jurisdictions, Illinois also allows law enforcement to object to the issuance of a concealed carry license if they believe the applicant is a threat to public safety or himself/herself.

If the police object, the appeal is heard by the Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board, which makes the final determination about whether a license is given. The Board’s decision is mailed to the claimant. There is a procedure for filing an appeal.

It is illegal to carry a handgun openly on your person or in a vehicle.

To conceal carry a weapon in Illinois, you must have an Illinois Concealed Carry License (CCL). Applicants must be at least 21 years old. The license allows the licensee to carry a loaded or unloaded weapon concealed on his or her person or inside a vehicle.

All new concealed carry license applications must include a 16-hour firearms training course taught by a state-approved instructor. Residents of Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas, and Virginia are the only states that offer non-resident licenses. In terms of reciprocity, Illinois does not recognize any other state’s CCW license.

To own a weapon or ammunition in Illinois, residents must have a Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOID). FOID card holders (those who do not have a CCL) are permitted to carry unloaded weapons in an event.


Illinois follows the Castle Doctrine. You have no moral obligation to retreat if you are attacked, and using lethal force is justified.

Use of Force in Self-Defense

An individual is justified in using force when and to the degree that he or she reasonably believes that such conduct is required to protect himself or herself or another against the imminent use of unlawful force by such other.

He is justified in using deadly force, however, only if he has a reasonable belief that it is necessary to avoid imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or another, or the commission of a forcible felony.

Use of Force in Dwelling Protection

Where and to the degree that he or she reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to prevent or terminate such other’s unlawful entry into or attack on a building, a person is justified in using force. However, the use of lethal force is only justified if and only if the following conditions are met:

  • The entry is made or attempted in a threatening, riotous, or tumultuous manner, and he or she reasonably believes that such force is required to prevent an attack on, or offer of personal violence to, oneself or another then in the dwelling, or
  • He or she reasonably believes that such force is required to prevent the commission of a felony in the dwelling.

Use of Force to Protect Other People’s Property

A person is justified in using force when and to the extent that he or she reasonably believes that such conduct is required to prevent or terminate such other’s trespass on or other tortious or criminal interference with either real property (other than a dwelling) or personal property, lawfully in one’s possession or in the possession of another who is a member of one’s immediate family.

However, a person is justified in using deadly force only if he or she has a reasonable belief that such force is needed to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.


No allegation or liability shall arise from any act involving the justified use of force, unless the use of force includes willful or wanton misconduct.

Prohibited Purchases in Illinois

Certain individuals, such as felons, domestic offenders, and people with a history of mental illness, are prohibited from owning or possessing weapons under federal law.

No one can acquire or possess a firearm or ammunition in Illinois unless they have a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification (‘FOID’) card issued by the Illinois Department of State Police (‘DSP’).

The FOID card procedure is intended to recognize individuals who are not eligible to purchase or possess weapons or ammunition for a variety of purposes in the public interest.

The DSP may refuse, revoke, or seize a FOID card only if the DSP determines that the current or prospective card holder is (or was at the time of issuance):

An individual under the age of 21 who has been convicted of a misdemeanor (other than a traffic offense) or adjudged delinquent, or who lacks the written permission of his or her parent or guardian to obtain and possess firearms and ammunition, or whose parent or guardian has withdrawn such written consent, or whose parent or guardian does not qualify for a FOID card;

  • A individual convicted of a crime under Illinois or any other jurisdiction’s laws;
  • A narcotics addict;
  • A patient in a mental hospital during the last five years, or someone who has been adjudicated as mentally defective;
  • Impaired by a mental disorder (defined as a state of mind manifested by aggressive, suicidal, threatening, or assaultive behavior) that poses a clear and present danger to the applicant, any other individual or persons, or the community;
  • Intellectually impaired (defined by Illinois law as having ‘significantly below-average general intellectual functioning that occurs concurrently with deficiency in adaptive behavior and that began before the age of 18 years’);
  • One who knowingly provided misleading information on the FOID card application;
  • A individual convicted in another jurisdiction during the last five years of battery, robbery, aggravated assault, breach of an order of security, or a substantially similar crime in which a firearm was used or possessed;
  • A individual convicted in another jurisdiction of domestic battery, aggravated domestic battery, or a substantially similar offense;
  • Any Illinois state statute or federal law prohibits the acquisition or possession of weapons or ammunition;
  • A minor who has been adjudicated a delinquent minor for the commission of an offense that, if committed by an adult, would be a felony; or
  • An adult who has been adjudicated a delinquent minor for the commission of an offense that, if committed by an adult, would be a felony.

Furthermore, DSP must refuse an application for, or revoke and seize, a FOID card if DSP determines that the applicant or cardholder is or was subject to a current order of protection banning possession of firearms at the time of issuance.

Illinois law also prohibits sales to minors.

Background checks are required in Illinois for weapon transfers made by private sellers (non-firearms dealers) and at gun shows.

Where Is It Legal to Open Carry?

In Illinois, you can own a weapon in the following locations:

  • Restaurants and bars: Carry-out is only permitted in restaurant areas, not in bar areas. However, you are not permitted to carry a weapon into restaurants or bars that derive more than half of their revenue from the selling of alcoholic beverages. Restaurants and bars in Illinois are expected to display this information prominently in their establishment.
  • Personal vehicle: You can only carry a weapon in a private vehicle if you have a carry permit. People with a FOID card but no carry permit can transport firearms in their vehicle only if they are unloaded and secured in a locked container, or otherwise not immediately available.
  • You can carry a weapon in state parks, forests, and wildlife management areas.
  • Worship places: You can carry a weapon in churches, mosques, and synagogues unless there is a sign banning it.

Where Is It Illegal to Open Carry?

The following areas are prohibited by Illinois gun law from possessing weapons:

  • School and school-related activity transportation
  • Any house, real property, or parking area (except that a permittee can carry a concealed firearm on or about his or her person within a vehicle into the parking area and store a firearm or ammunition concealed in a case within a locked vehicle or locked container out of plain view within the vehicle in the parking area). A licensee can carry a concealed firearm in the immediate vicinity of his or her vehicle within a prohibited parking lot area only for the limited purpose of storing or retrieving a firearm within the vehicle’s trunk) when under the control of an:
  1. Elementary, elementary, pre-school, child-care center, colleges and universities, and in a vehicle on every public way within 1,000 feet of a school’s real property;
  2. Any stadium, arena, or real estate or parking area regulated by a stadium, arena, or any college or professional sporting event;
  3. Officer in the executive or legislative branches of state government (other than the Illinois Department of Natural Resources);
  4. A hospital, a mental health center, or a nursing home;
  5. Adult or juvenile detention, correctional facility, hospital, or jail;
  6. Public transit service;
  7. A business where alcohol accounts for more than half of total sales;
  8. Gaming center
  9. Public library.
  10. Airport, which serves both commercial and charter aircraft.
  11. Amusement park, a zoo, and a museum.
  12. Private property that is clearly and conspicuously marked as private;
  • Playgrounds, parks, and athletic facilities open to the public (except on trails or bikeways);
  • Courts;
  • Local government buildings;
  • Public transit and transportation facilities;
  • Public meetings or special activities open to the public;
  • Locations with special liquor licenses or special use permits;
  • Cook County Forest Preserve property;
  • Nuclear energy, storage, weapons, or development site or facility regulated by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission;
  • Property that is clearly and conspicuously posted as private; and
  • Any location where it is illegal to carry a weapon under federal law.

Minimum age to purchase and possess a firearm

Anyone under the age of 18 is not permitted to own a handgun in Illinois. State law also forbids anyone from knowingly selling a handgun to anyone under the age of 18. However, it is also illegal in Illinois to knowingly pass a weapon to someone who does not have a FOID passport.

To receive a FOID card, a person must be over the age of 21 or have written permission from his or her parent or legal guardian to possess and acquire firearms and ammunition.

In addition, the parent or legal guardian must not be barred from obtaining a FOID passport. Individuals under the age of 21 are also ineligible for a FOID card if they have been convicted of a misdemeanor (other than a traffic offense) or adjudicated delinquent.

Open Carry Laws and Legislation in Illinois

The following are some of the Illinois laws concerning open carry in the state.

Firearm Magazine Limitations

The state of Illinois does not have a restriction on the number of weapons magazines that can be carried. Cook County, Illinois, on the other hand, has a ban on large capacity magazines.

High capacity magazines are those that can hold more than ten rounds of ammunition.

Firearm Restrictions

The types of firearms that are legal in Illinois are restricted.

The state forbids armor-piercing bullets with the following characteristics:

  • Projectile core.
  • Completely jacketed bullets that are larger than the regular twenty-two caliber used in handguns.
  • Bullets with jackets weighing more than a quarter of the projectile’s total weight.

This definition, however, excludes handguns made from fragile materials such as lead, zinc, copper, or their alloys, which are primarily used in professional sporting events.

Furthermore, due to the weight of the jacket and the composition of the pistol, Illinois forbids the use of a full metal jacket handgun for firearms training.

Residents of Illinois who wish to purchase a weapon must first obtain an identification card.

Even if the resident purchases the weapon in another state, the resident must have a firearm identification card and an Illinois identification card in order to ship it into the state.

No Weapons Posts in the State

Illinois laws provide for the use of signs and posts to restrict the carrying of weapons in the state.

Any building or location that has weapon prohibition signs must post them at the entrance, where anyone can see them.

The sign informs those entering the building that they are not permitted to do so with weapons, regardless of permit status.

All signs for this reason must also be four inches by six inches in size, according to Illinois law.

In Illinois, someone who violates a no-weapons sign statute is guilty of a class B misdemeanor.

If the individual violates this law again, it is a class A misdemeanor, and the person’s license will be revoked for at least six months.

A third breach will result in a license revocation, a fine of $150 payable to a mental health fund, and all other additional court costs, according to section sixty-five of Illinois law relating to this act.

Preemption Law

Illinois has preemption gun rules, and the state legislature has veto power over laws governing the use of guns.

Local governments, on the other hand, have the authority to regulate gun laws in their jurisdiction in the following circumstances:

Individuals should obtain weapon identification cards and carry permits if they choose to carry a firearm.

The Red Flag Law

Section sixty-six of Illinois’ weapons laws permits a family member or a law enforcement officer to petition a court of law to limit a person’s possession and use of firearms in the state.

Brandishing of Firearms

In the state, it is illegal to use a weapon to harass someone.

In this context, intimidation refers to the deliberate use of a weapon to control a person’s contact, either directly or indirectly, while threatening to cause harm to the person.

If you are found guilty, you will be prosecuted in the state.

Using a Firearm When Under the Influence

It is illegal in the state to handle guns when under the influence of alcohol.

As specified by the state’s vehicle code standards, this also involves being under the influence of any drug or intoxicating substance.

Firearms Possession When out hunting

In Illinois, you are not permitted to carry a weapon while hunting, and this includes concealed weapons.

The only exception to this rule is whether the weapon being used is legal for the form of game being hunted.

Illinois already has hunter intimidation regulations in place to protect the state’s hunting practices.

Among them are the following:

  • When an individual interferes with the taking of games in wildlife or aquatic life in order to avoid such action, he or she violates a lawful hunting activity.
  • An individual violates legal hunting practices by interfering with hunting by disturbing wildlife.
  • An individual violates a lawful taking operation when he or she intentionally interferes with, disturbs, or harasses a hunter who is in the process of taking a game.
  • An individual violates hunting practices when he or she uses some kind of stimulus to deter or disrupt wildlife or aquatic life.
  • An individual violates legal hunting activity, by erecting barriers to restrict movement of wildlife where hunting occurs
  • An individual violates legal hunting activity, by interjecting the finishing lines used to take aquatic lives
  • An individual violates a lawful hunting activity by physically interfering with the condition of a property used for wildlife capture.
  • An individual violates hunting practices by trespassing on private property without the landowner’s permission in order to hinder hunting.
  • An individual violates a lawful hunting operation, by resisting a peace officer’s order to preserve order
  • An individual violates legal hunting activity, by using a drone in such a way that it disturbs wildlife or marine life


Can I openly carry in Illinois with a concealed weapons license?

No, you can not. Open carry is not permitted in Illinois, and it is not permitted with a warrant.

What is the Illinois Firearm Possession Age Requirement?

In Illinois, you must be at least eighteen years old to own and transport a weapon.

In Illinois, at what age can I apply for a concealed carry permit?

In Illinois, the minimum age to apply for a concealed carry license is twenty-one years old.

Is there a Red Flag Law in Illinois?

Yes, a family member or a law enforcement officer may file a petition to prevent an individual from possessing firearms if the person is a danger to himself or herself or another person.

Is Illinois a Constitutionally Covered Carry State?

No, Illinois does not consider constitutional carry.

Is there a restriction on the use of firearms in Illinois?

Yes, the state outlaws armored penetrating guns, and there are restrictions on what types of weapons are permitted.

In Illinois, do I need a purchase permit to buy firearms?

Yes, you must first obtain the state’s weapon identification card before purchasing a firearm.

Is a criminal record background check needed for the purchase of firearms in Illinois?

Yes, all firearms dealers in the state, whether private, state, or federally licensed, must check a buyer’s identification card before selling a gun to them. Furthermore, your concealed carry permit does not exclude you from the search.

How long would it take for me to buy a firearm in Illinois?

Before purchasing a weapon, you must wait 72 hours for your identification card check to be completed.

Is it possible to obtain a concealed carry license in Illinois if you are not a citizen of the state?

Only residents of the following states are eligible for a non-resident concealed carry license issued by Illinois: Arkansas, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas, Idaho, Virginia

In Illinois, do I have to inform the police about my possession of firearms?

No, unless an officer specifically requests it, you are not required to inform authorities of your possession of a weapon.

Is there a Castle Doctrine policy in Illinois?

You have a right to self-defense in your house, and Illinois state law prohibits the prosecution of someone who defends his or her home.

How long does an Illinois concealed carry license expire?

The license is valid for five years, after which it must be renewed.

When can I start renewing my Illinois license?

You will begin renewing your license ninety days before it expires.

Is firearm training needed for license application in Illinois?

Yes, you must attend a sixteen-hour training course led by a state-certified teacher.

Do “No Gun Signs” have legal effects?

Yes. If a property or establishment has a “No Weapons” sign or the person in lawful possession informs you that guns are not permitted, you are not permitted to carry on the property or into the establishment. Trespass is committed when certain signals or verbal alerts are ignored.

In Illinois, do you have to tell a police officer that you’re carrying a concealed firearm?

No, you do not. In Illinois, you are not required to tell a law enforcement officer that you are carrying a concealed weapon unless the officer asks.

Can you carry a concealed weapon while hunting with a shotgun or rifle in Illinois?

No, concealed carry is not permitted under current regulations. When deer or turkey hunting, license holders are not permitted to carry any weapon, even a concealed firearm, unless the firearm is legal for taking the species being hunted.

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