Know the Laws: Illinois
UPDATED October 9, 2016
Below is information about state gun laws in Illinois. A restraining order or criminal conviction may make it illegal for an abuser to have a gun. However, in addition to these state-specific laws, there are also federal gun laws that could apply. To fully understand all of the legal protections available, it is important that you also read the Federal Gun Laws pages. Please consider getting in touch with a domestic violence advocate in your community for more information on gun laws in your area.
Please consider getting in touch with a domestic violence advocate in your community for more information on gun laws in your area. To find help in your area, please go to the IL Where to Find Help page.
In these gun laws pages, we refer to both "federal gun laws" and "state gun laws." The major difference between the two has to do with who makes the law, who prosecutes someone who violates the law, and what the penalty is for breaking the law.
One reason why it is important for you to know that there are these two sets of gun laws is so that you can understand all of the possible ways that the abuser might be breaking the law, and you can better protect yourself. Throughout this section, we will be referring mostly to state laws. Be sure to also read our Federal Gun Laws pages to see if any federal laws apply to your situation as well. You will need to read both state and federal laws to see which ones, if any, the abuser might be violating.
If you are calling the police because you believe the abuser has violated a gun law, you do not necessarily need to be able to tell the police which law was violated (state versus federal) but local police cannot arrest someone for violating federal law, only for violating state/local laws. Only federal law enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (“ATF”), can arrest someone for violating federal laws. If the local police believe that a state law is being violated, they could arrest the abuser and hand the case over to the state prosecutor. If the local police believe a federal law is being violated, hopefully, the police department will notify the ATF or perhaps the U.S. Attorney’s office in your state (which is the federal prosecutor). For information on how you can contact ATF directly to report the violation of federal gun laws, go to Who do I notify if I think the abuser should not have a gun? If the abuser is breaking both state and federal laws, s/he might be prosecuted in both state and federal court.
Throughout these gun law pages, we will refer to gun laws that make it illegal for someone convicted of a felony to have a gun. A felony is a more serious crime than a misdemeanor. Under IL state law, a felony is a crime that is punishable by death or a sentence of one year or more in a penitentiary.* However, you cannot always tell if someone was convicted of a felony only by looking at the amount of time s/he actually served in prison since sentences are often reduced or pled down. If you are unsure if the abuser was convicted of a felony, you might want to talk to the prosecutor who handled the criminal case against the abuser to find out or go to the courthouse and search the conviction records.
* 720 ILCS 5/2-7
It depends. Under Illinois law, anyone who has a domestic violence order of protection against him/ her, including an interim order of protection, emergency order of protection, or plenary order of protection, cannot legally have a firearm. Any firearms in the possession of the abuser must be turned over to a person with a valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card and the abuser must turn over his/her Firearm Owner's Identification Card to the local law enforcement agency. Also, if the abuser is a law enforcement officer ("peace officer"), s/he must surrender any firearms that are used in the performance of his/her duties to the agency's chief law enforcement officer.*
Also, under Illinois state law, the Department of State Police has the power to deny an application for a Firearm Owner's Identification Card (or to revoke and seize one that was previously issued) if the applicant or holder of the card:
Also, federal laws, which apply to all states, restrict a person's right to have a gun under certain circumstances such as when the abuser has been convicted of certain domestic violence-related crimes or if you have an order of protection against the abuser that meets certain requirements. Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.
* 725 ILCS 5/112A-14(b)(14.5)
** 430 ILCS 65/8.2
*** 430 ILCS 65/8