As with all things related to being a gun owner in Illinois, it is like tiptoeing through a minefield. Understanding the Preemption clauses in the Illinois Concealed Carry Licensing Act as well as the Firearm Owners Identification Act is no different. Many people understand that there is preemption in Illinois law, but don’t understand what preemption means.
First, let’s explain generically what preemption is. Illinois is a “home rule” state meaning communities larger than 25,000 can set their own rules or ordinances as appropriate for their community. For example, the speed limit in Cook County is 55, and almost immediately jumps to 65 mph once leaving cook county. Another example, some municipalities like Chicago have banned switchblade knives while others allow them (Yes! Switchblade knives are legal in Illinois.) Preemption allows the state to block these individual ordinances, and the state lawmakers did block local ordinances when they passed the concealed carry licensing act in 2013.
Now let’s specifically dive into preemption as written in Public Act 098-0063 (the Illinois Concealed Carry Licensing act). Public Act 098-0063 says…
Section 90. Preemption.
The regulation, licensing, possession, registration, and
transportation of handguns and ammunition for handguns by
licensees are exclusive powers and functions of the State. Any
ordinance or regulation, or portion thereof, enacted on or
before the effective date of this Act that purports to impose
regulations or restrictions on licensees or handguns and
ammunition for handguns in a manner inconsistent with this Act
shall be invalid in its application to licensees under this Act
on the effective date of this Act. This Section is a denial and
limitation of home rule powers and functions under subsection
(h) of Section 6 of Article VII of the Illinois Constitution.
Sec. 13.1. Preemption.Public Act 098-0063 https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/98/098-0063.htm
(a) Except as otherwise provided in the Firearm Concealed
Carry Act and subsections (b) and (c) of this Section, the
provisions of any ordinance enacted by any municipality which
requires registration or imposes greater restrictions or
limitations on the acquisition, possession and transfer of
firearms than are imposed by this Act, are not invalidated or
affected by this Act.
(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this Section, the
regulation, licensing, possession, and registration of
handguns and ammunition for a handgun, and the transportation
of any firearm and ammunition by a holder of a valid Firearm
Owner’s Identification Card issued by the Department of State
Police under this Act are exclusive powers and functions of
this State. Any ordinance or regulation, or portion of that
ordinance or regulation, enacted on or before the effective
date of this amendatory Act of the 98th General Assembly that
purports to impose regulations or restrictions on a holder of a
valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card issued by the
Department of State Police under this Act in a manner that is
inconsistent with this Act, on the effective date of this
amendatory Act of the 98th General Assembly, shall be invalid
in its application to a holder of a valid Firearm Owner’s
Identification Card issued by the Department of State Police
under this Act.
(c) Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this Section, the
regulation of the possession or ownership of assault weapons
are exclusive powers and functions of this State. Any ordinance
or regulation, or portion of that ordinance or regulation, that
purports to regulate the possession or ownership of assault
weapons in a manner that is inconsistent with this Act, shall
be invalid unless the ordinance or regulation is enacted on,
before, or within 10 days after the effective date of this
amendatory Act of the 98th General Assembly. Any ordinance or
regulation described in this subsection (c) enacted more than
10 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the
98th General Assembly is invalid. An ordinance enacted on,
before, or within 10 days after the effective date of this
amendatory Act of the 98th General Assembly may be amended. The
enactment or amendment of ordinances under this subsection (c)
are subject to the submission requirements of Section 13.3. For
the purposes of this subsection, “assault weapons” means
firearms designated by either make or model or by a test or
list of cosmetic features that cumulatively would place the
firearm into a definition of “assault weapon” under the
(d) For the purposes of this Section, “handgun” has the
meaning ascribed to it in Section 5 of the Firearm Concealed
(e) This Section is a denial and limitation of home rule
powers and functions under subsection (h) of Section 6 of
Article VII of the Illinois Constitution.
(Source: P.A. 76-1939.)
At this point, it is important to note that I am not a lawyer and nothing I say (or type) is legal advice. I also wish to remind everyone that you can be arrested for anything and are guilty until proven innocent. The letter of the law (above) is simply your defense in court. It’s not supposed to be that way, but that’s the way it is. Having said that, I shall now attempt to give you my layman’s translation of the above law text.
Section 90 seems pretty clear. The state says municipalities (cities, towns, and counties) can not ban handguns or ammunition for handguns. The state also says that the municipalities cannot regulate the transportation of handguns. The state says if a municipality had any such ordinance on the books when the concealed carry licensing act passed, this ban is invalid. This preemption only applies to people who have concealed carry licenses, so if a municipality wanted to make it more illegal-er for a criminal to have a firearm without a CCL, they could. Let me repeat, even if a municipality had a handgun ban on the books before concealed carry passed, it is null and void.
Section 13.1 (a) can be slightly confusing. I understand it that municipalities are allowed to have certain ordinances more strict than the state so long as those ordinances aren’t individually singled out in one of the preemption clauses. See above and below.
Section 13.1 (b) starts by repeating section 90 almost word for word but with some differences. It says if you have a FOID card that the municipal ordinances which regulate handguns, handgun ammunition or the transportation of any firearm are invalid. In section 90, it states the transportation of handguns can’t be regulated, but in this section it states the transportation of any firearm can’t be regulated for a person with a Firearm Owner ID.
Section 13.1 (c) is very often misunderstood and widely debated. I believe 13.1 (c) to say only the state can ban or regulate assault weapons. However, the state allowed municipalities 10 days after the concealed carry licensing act passed to enact so-called “assault weapon” bans. If memory serves me correctly, this 10-day window of opportunity was later extended to 30 days and yes, some municipalities did ban so-called “assault weapons”. Furthermore, and this part is important, once that window of opportunity closed, municipalities can enact no more gun ordinances of any kind. However, Deerfield was allowed a sweeping overhaul of its assault weapon ban which Deerfield claimed wasn’t a new ban but was an “amendment” to their existing ban.
So in summary, my layman’s interpretation of all this… Any municipal ordinance that regulates handguns, ammunition for handguns for transportation of firearms in Illinois is null and void. It doesn’t matter if the ordinance was enacted before or after the Concealed Carry Licensing act took place. It would be null and void. Period. Municipalities can regulate long guns (rifles and shotguns) but only if the regulation was enacted before concealed carry passed or within the short window of time after concealed carry passed.
Now, let’s talk about magazines. I understand that the legislative intent of preemption was to not make the minefield any worse for gun owners forcing us to download and upload magazines when crossing from one municipality to the next. Places like Chicago disagree. Chicago routinely confiscates magazines in excess of 15 rounds. Chicago claims that magazines are accessories and are neither handguns nor are they ammunition for handguns. Let me be clear, I personally believe Chicago is in gross violation of the law. I think this is an easy win for a lawyer, but nobody is going to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to slap Chicago with a lawsuit when they can simply replace their $50 magazine.