Gun ViolenceSpecial Report

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Chicago and Illinois Gun Laws

By Scott Sutton

PostedWednesday, March 6, 2013

  • Purchase of weapons: Those who want to purchase a weapon in Illinois must first get their Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card. This card, which is unique to Illinois, can be obtained by applying through the State Police Department. Applicants must be 21, a legal citizen of the U.S. and Illinois and cannot have a felony or be a narcotics addict. Those who are under 21 must have a guardian sign the application for them.

    “Now you need a notary to make sure it is actually your parents who are signing and saying you can buy a gun,” said Mastrianni, noting the change that took place last year.

    Currently FOID applications are so backlogged due to new applicants across Illinois that the return time is an estimated 14 to 18 weeks.

    After receiving a FOID card, the applicants decide which weapon they want and purchase it. This is when the mandatory NICS background check is ordered. If it is a long gun, the applicant wishes to purchase (a rifle or shotgun) there is a 24-hour waiting period. The waiting period is 72 hours for handguns. The waiting period does not apply for law-enforcement officers or a federally licensed dealer.
  •  Gun Show Laws: All gun shows in Illinois must be sanctioned by the Illinois State Police Department and have state police officers present. All private dealers at gun shows must make sure that potential buyers have a FOID card and must conduct a background check. The waiting period here does not apply to non-resident buyers.

    It is important to note that the city of Chicago outlawed gun shows and gun shops within the city limits, a legal decision that came under fire in 2010 when the ban on handguns within the city was lifted.
  • Possession Laws: Illinois does not allow possession of any long gun with more than one barrel that measures less than 16 inches (i.e. sawed off shotguns). Also, those under 18 cannot possess a handgun or a concealable weapon.

    In Chicago, firearms owners must register any weapon brought into the city with the Chicago police and carry the valid registration (which lasts for one year) simultaneously with their weapon. Assault weapons cannot legally be registered. Nationally, assault weapons had previously been banned by the Clinton administration from 1994-2004, but the ban did not include weapons that were already on the market.

  • Carrying Laws: Currently it is illegal to carry a concealed weapon on any public lands or within an incorporated city. This law was overturned on Dec. 11, 2012 by a 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

  • Machine Gun Laws: It is illegal in Illinois (and Chicago) to manufacture or own any automatic weapon – a weapon that shoots more than one projectile with a single pull of the trigger.

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