Can an Illinois Resident Buy a Gun in Another State?

The question is, can an Illinois Resident buy a Gun out of State? We often hear claims by the anti-freedom crowd, that Chicago crime is a result of “loose gun laws from neighboring states.” So the question remains, “Can an Illinois Resident Buy a Gun in Another State?”

As with all things related to guns, there isn’t a simple answer. The short answer is, Yes. An Illinois resident may buy a gun in another state. However, the purchase process is very heavily regulated. The federal government has laws about interstate gun commerce, Illinois also has laws about the purchase of firearms across state lines. In this article, we shall dissect both of those laws and see how they apply to Illinois gun owners.

It is not as simple as the anti-freedom crowd would have you believe, “Just cross the border into Indiana and bring back as many guns as you want.” First, let us focus on the federal laws governing interstate gun commerce.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms opinion [18 U.S.C 922(a)(3); 27 CFR 478.29] Last Reviewed August 31, 2015, says the following…

Generally, a person may only acquire a firearm within the person’s own State. Exceptions include the acquisition pursuant to a lawful bequest, or an over–the–counter acquisition of a rifle or shotgun from a licensee where the transaction is allowed by the purchaser’s State of residence and the licensee’s State of business. A person may borrow or rent a firearm in any State for temporary use for lawful sporting purposes.

Layman’s translation: You may buy a rifle or a shotgun, referred to as a “long gun” at a licensee. A licensee is short for Federal Firearm Licensee, more commonly referred to as a FFL or even more commonly referred to as a gun store. Therefore a resident of one state may go to another state to purchase a long gun from a gun store and take possession of that long gun, only if the transaction is allowed in the purchaser’s state of residence.  That’s where Illinois law comes into play, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Handguns are another story, while you may purchase a long gun from an out-of-state gun store, purchase of a handgun from an out-of-state gun store or private party has a different set of rules. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms opinion [18 U.S.C 922(a)(3) and 922(b)(3); 27 CFR 478.29] Last Reviewed September 16, 2015, says the following…

An unlicensed person who is not prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms may purchase a firearm from an out–of–State source, provided the transfer takes place through a Federal firearms licensee in his or her State of residence.

Layman’s translation: You may purchase a firearm (handgun or long gun) from an out-of-state source, meaning a gun store or a private person, if the firearm is sent to a FFL in the buyer’s state of residency. The FFL will then complete the transfer with the associated background check and paperwork.


But it is not that simple, Illinois law now comes into play, and if you can imagine Illinois law is more strict for the purchase of firearms.

The Illinois Firearm Owners Identification Card Act Compiled Statute (430 ILCS 65/3a) (from Ch. 38, par. 83-3a) says the following…

Sec. 3a. (a) Any resident of Illinois who has obtained a firearm owner’s identification card pursuant to this Act and who is not otherwise prohibited from obtaining, possessing or using a firearm may purchase or obtain a rifle or shotgun or ammunition for a rifle or shotgun in Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Wisconsin or Kentucky.

Layman’s translation: While an Illinois resident may purchase a long gun from an out-of-state source, Illinois law says the only states a person may purchase a long gun includes those contiguous states: Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Wisconsin, or Kentucky. It is important to note, per Illinois law Illinois “cool down” waiting period does apply for purchases in these states.

Can an Illinois Resident Buy a Gun in Another State? Summary:

In summary, An Illinois Resident may purchase any firearm, which is legal to own in Illinois, from an out-of-state source and that transaction is always subject to a background check. Long guns from states contiguous to Illinois may be purchased at gun stores only. Long guns purchased from an out-of-state private party must always be sent to a licensed dealer in Illinois. Handguns purchased out of state, whether at a gun store or from a private person, must always be sent to a licensed dealer in Illinois.

While it is lawful for Illinois residents to buy firearms from out of state, to comply with numerous existing gun laws, a background check must always be performed for interstate gun purchases.


Firearm Owner Identification Card Act Compiled Statute

ATF Resource Center

ATF Frequently Asked Questions – Unlicensed Persons

Disclaimer: The above information is for educational purposes only. The claims made are not to be considered legal advice and have not been reviewed by a lawyer. You can be arrested for anything! The letter of the law becomes your defense in court.


8 thoughts on “Can an Illinois Resident Buy a Gun in Another State?”

  1. Oh, wow! You just made me realize the sheer importance of abiding by all the local regulations and rules before owning a firearm. One of my colleagues has been expressing his wish to get himself a hunting rifle so he can spend some time with his father this weekend. I think he should meet a professional first before making any further purchase soon.

  2. I am a resident of Illinois. I also have a home in Wisconsin. Can I bring to and use my guns in Wisconsin? If Illinois implements any bans, can I take the gun Illinois banned to my Wisconsin home and leave it there?

    1. I grew up in wisconsin and now live in IL (unfortunately). WI doesn’t care. Ive had IL friends come to wisconsin and buy ammo, shoot at a range, and they didnt even ask for a FOID. In terms of legality, i am 99.9999999999999999% sure you will be just fine.

  3. I have a FOID card in Illinois, but have a cabin in Michigan.
    Can I purchase a long gun in Michigan and leave it in Michigan at my cabin,
    As long as I do not take the long gun back to ILL.

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