Whether visiting Illinois for an Alpha Koncepts training event, some other event, or just passing through, transporting your firearm legally in Illinois is sometimes a confusing topic, but it doesn’t have to be. There is much information that makes it easy to comply with the law to transport your firearm legally in Illinois. However the law does treat Illinois residents and non-residents differently, so it is also important to know those differences. It is also important to know the legal differences between “Carry” and “Transportation” in Illinois. This article is not to be considered legal advice.
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Transporting your Firearm Legally for Illinois Residents
Illinois residents must always have their Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) card or their Illinois Concealed Carry License (CCL) on their person at all times when in possession of firearms and ammunition.
With your FOID, for transport, the firearm must either be…
- Broken down in a non-functioning state, OR
- Not immediately Accessible, OR
- Unloaded and enclosed in a case.
The following pamphlet was printed before Illinois allowed carrying of concealed firearms, however, does clearly explain how one may transport your firearm legally in Illinois: Transporting-Your-Firearm-Legally-Illinois-State-Police Brochure
For an Illinois resident to carry a firearm, they must have a valid Illinois Concealed Carry License on their person and the firearm must be a handgun as defined by the Illinois law.
Transporting your Firearm Legally for Illinois Non-Residents
The process for an Illinois non-resident to transport their firearm legally in Illinois is similar to that of a resident, however, there are also some differences. The first difference is that the non-resident does not need a FOID card. In fact, most non-residents aren’t even aware of what a FOID card is. Essentially it is a card that says you have passed a background check, similar to the National Instant Check System (NICS) that anyone who has bought a gun has underwent. The difference is Illinois residents need this card on their person at all times they are in possession of firearms or ammunition, non-residents do not.
For purposes of transportation, the non-resident must adhere to the above-described criteria of broken down in a non-functioning state, OR not immediately Accessible, OR unloaded and enclosed in a case.
It is important to note that the case does not need to be a separate case for the firearm and the ammunition. It is also important to note that the case(s) need not be locked. There is some misinformation surrounding this topic and I believe that confusion arises when we discuss the federal Firearm Owner Protection Act (FOPA) which states for federal transportation purposes the firearms and ammunition must be in locked cases, in some situations. Illinois does not have this requirement.
The Illinois Firearm Concealed Carry Licensing Act states:
(e) Nothing in this Act shall prohibit a non-resident from transporting a concealed firearm within his or her vehicle in Illinois, if the concealed firearm remains within his or her vehicle and the non-resident:
(1) is not prohibited from owning or possessing a
firearm under federal law;
(2) is eligible to carry a firearm in public under
the laws of his or her state or territory of residence, as evidenced by the possession of a concealed carry license or permit issued by his or her state of residence, if applicable; and
(3) is not in possession of a license under this Act.
If the non-resident leaves his or her vehicle unattended, he or she shall store the firearm within a locked vehicle or locked container within the vehicle in accordance with subsection (b) of Section 65 of this Act.
WARNING – There have been arrests of non-residents for carrying their firearms within their vehicles. If you are a non-resident and choose to carry your firearm concealed within your vehicle, you may want to consider printing a copy of the Illinois Firearm Concealed Carry Licensing Act, compiled statute and keep it in the vehicle with you.
What about Carrying a Concealed Firearm in Illinois?
As previously stated, in the eyes of the law transportation and carrying are two separate and distinctly different subjects. To obtain an Illinois Concealed Carry License, you would first need to attend a Concealed Carry class. Only handguns may be carried in Illinois. And Illinois does not allow Open Carry, meaning the firearm is visible to the general public (except on one’s own private land, or the land of another with their permission). Illinois residents must have their concealed carry license on their person at all times when carrying concealed.
However, the law is looser for non-residents. While Illinois does not honor (read: reciprocation) the concealed carry licenses of any other states, and while Illinois only will issue non-resident licenses to 5 other states (See recent changes to non-resident eligibility) actually non-residents can carry concealed firearms without an Illinois concealed carry license while in their vehicle if they may lawfully carry in their state of residence.
Some legal Definitions you need to know when transporting your firearm legally in Illinois.
According to various laws, you must understand how certain terms are defined legally in Illinois.
The Illinois Firearm Concealed Carry Licensing (FCCL) Act defines a concealed firearm as…
“Concealed firearm” means a loaded or unloaded handgun carried on or about a person completely or mostly concealed from view of the public or on or about a person within a vehicle.
The FCCL defines a handgun as…
“Handgun” means any device which is designed to expel a projectile or projectiles by the action of an explosion, expansion of gas, or escape of gas that is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand.
The FCCL, however, excludes the following items from the definition of handgun…
“Handgun” does not include:
(1) a stun gun or taser;
(2) a machine gun as defined in item (i) of paragraph
(7) of subsection (a) of Section 24-1 of the Criminal Code of 2012;
(3) a short-barreled rifle or shotgun as defined in
item (ii) of paragraph (7) of subsection (a) of Section 24-1 of the Criminal Code of 2012; or
(4) any pneumatic gun, spring gun, paint ball gun, or
B-B gun which expels a single globular projectile not exceeding .18 inch in diameter, or which has a maximum muzzle velocity of less than 700 feet per second, or which expels breakable paint balls containing washable marking colors.
The FCCL as well as previous case law defines a case as…
“case” includes a glove compartment or console that completely encloses the concealed firearm or ammunition, the trunk of the vehicle, or a firearm carrying box, shipping box, or other container.
This article is not legal advice. We have seen arrests of non-residents for not having a FOID card. We have seen arrests of non-residents for both transporting and carrying in their vehicles. Remember, you can be arrested for anything! The letter of the law becomes your attorney’s defense. Please consult your criminal defense attorney with any questions.
Transporting banned items
Illinois passed an Assault Weapon Ban on Jan 10th of 2023, and although this ban is likely to be mostly declared unconstitutional, until the courts rule; One must know how they can transport their banned items.
Illinois has banned nearly all semi automatic rifles and some semi-automatic pistols. You’ll need to check out our extensive article on the Assault Weapon ban for more information on exactly what is banned. However if a non-resident wishes to transport a banned item in Illinois, they have a 24 hour exemption. The Protect Illinois Communities Act (aka Assault Weapon Ban) states:
(ii) Any nonresident who transports, within 24 hours,Illinois Public Act 102-1116
a weapon for any lawful purpose from any place where the
nonresident may lawfully possess and carry that weapon to
any other place where the nonresident may lawfully possess
and carry that weapon if, during the transportation, the
weapon is unloaded, and neither the weapon nor any
ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is
directly accessible from the passenger compartment of the
transporting vehicle. In the case of a vehicle without a
compartment separate from the driver’s compartment, the
weapon or ammunition shall be contained in a locked
container other than the glove compartment or console.
Above we mentioned that the cases need not be locked for transportation purposes. However if a non-resident is transporting a banned item then the case would need to be locked.
The ban also mentions that those who are authorized to possess such items may transport the items to locations where they are authorized to possess such items. Those places include your property, the property of another with permission, on the premises of a gunsmith or dealer, or on a licensed firing range. The ban states…
Beginning 90 days after the effective date of thisPublic Act 102-1116
amendatory Act of the 102nd General Assembly, a person
authorized under this Section to possess an assault weapon,
assault weapon attachment, .50 caliber rifle, or .50 caliber
cartridge shall possess such items only:
(5) while traveling to or from these locations,
provided that the assault weapon, assault weapon
attachment, or .50 caliber rifle is unloaded and the
assault weapon, assault weapon attachment, .50 caliber
rifle, or .50 caliber cartridge is enclosed in a case,
firearm carrying box, shipping box, or other container.