Chicago and Illinois Gun Laws
By Scott Sutton
Posted: Wednesday, 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
- 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
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
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
- 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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