Know the Laws: Illinois
UPDATED October 23, 2012
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.
If the abuser’s gun(s) is taken away, the court clerk should notify the state police that the abuser cannot have a gun. The abuser will have to give his/her Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card to the court clerk who will send it to the state police and will either have to give his/her gun(s) to the local law enforcement agency or to the state police. The agency that receives the gun(s) will keep it until the order expires. If the abuser is a peace officer, s/he will have to give his/her gun(s) to the chief law enforcement executive at his/her job who will keep the gun(s) until the order expires. If the abuser is in court, he will be ordered by the judge to turn over the guns. If the abuser is not in court, the judge can issue a warrant that allows the police to seize (forcibly take) the abuser’s gun.*
Once the guns have been turned in or seized, the law enforcement agency should notify the domestic violence unit at the local court that the abuser has followed the order.
* 750 ILCS 60/214(b)(14.5)
If you think the abuser is violating the federal firearm law, you can call your local police or sheriff department, the State Police, or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).
You can find contact information for sheriff departments in your area on our IL Sheriff Department Locations page.
There is an ATF field office located in Chicago. Their contact information is:
U.S. Department of Justice
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Chicago Field Division
525 West Van Buren Street
Chicago, IL 60607
For reporting illegal firearm activity: 1-800-ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867).
There are also branch offices in Fairview Heights, Downers Grove, Peoria, Rock Island, Rockford, and Springfield.
A local domestic violence organization in your area may also be able to answer your questions and assist you in talking to the necessary law enforcement officials. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our IL State and Local Programs page.
Note: Generally, the abuser does not have to have knowledge of the law in order to be arrested for violating the law. If someone has a gun or buys a gun in violation of the law, s/he can be arrested, whether or not s/he knows s/he was in violation of the law.*
* See United States v. Lippman, 369 F. 3d 1039 (8th Cir. 2004); United States v. Henson, 55 F. Supp. 2d 528 (S.D. W.V. 1999).
Under IL state law, anyone who is found to be illegally in possession of a firearm other than a handgun is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor and can be punished by jail time of up to 1 year, a fine of up to $2,500, or both. Anyone who is found to be illegally in possession of a handgun is guilty of a Class 4 felony and can be punished by jail time for 1-3 years, a fine of up to $25,000, or both.*
* 720 ILCS 5/24-3.1(b); 730 ILCS 5/5-8-1; 730 ILCS 5/5-9-1
Before purchasing a gun, all buyers must undergo a criminal background check that is processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). If the abuser has a qualifying order of protection against him, or has been convicted of a felony or domestic violence crime, those records should be in the NICS, which should prevent the abuser from legally buying a gun.
Additionally, in Illinois, if the abuser tries to legally buy a gun, the status of his/her Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card will be checked. When you got your order of protection, the Firearms Services Bureau (FSB) should have been notified thatther abuser is not allowed to have or buy a gun, and his/her FOID card should have been revoked. If the status check shows a revoked FOID card, the abuser will not be allowed to buy a gun. However, if the FSB was not told about the order of protection, the FOID card might still be valid, and it is possible that the abuser could slip through the system. If the abuser is able to purchase a gun, you can alert the police, and ask that his/her gun be taken away. Generally, it is not a good idea to assume that because the abuser was able to buy a gun, it is legal for him to have one. The criminal background check system is not foolproof.
Note: There may also be some loopholes in the law that your abuser can take advantage of. For more information, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in your area. Go to our IL State and Local Programs page to find an organization near you.