Illinois Gun License Requirements

Illinois has several gun license requirements.

A gun in the home, in the car or on your person can increase the feeling of personal security, provide a deterrent for criminals and even prevent harm from affecting a loved one. Still, in the wrong hands, guns can kill the innocent just as readily as the guilty. Because of this, states such as Illinois have introduced laws to ensure that licensed gun carriers are of good moral character.


While the U.S. Constitution protects the individual’s right to bear arms, and the state of Illinois Bill of Rights states that the right to bear arms can only be infringed through police power, Illinois still has a number of regulations concerning possession of firearms. In the state of Illinois, a Firearms Owner’s Identification Card, or FOID, is required even to purchase a firearm or ammunition. Citizens of Illinois over 21 years of age (or over 18 with parental consent) can apply for the FOID card by mail. Approval for a FOID card requires that the individual has never been convicted of a felony, has never been a narcotic addict, is not mentally retarded and has not been a patient of a mental hospital.

Cooling Off Period

As with many states, Illinois has a mandatory 72-hour wait period between the time a person purchases a handgun and the time he can take the gun home from a licensed dealer. This period, called a cooling off period, allows the gun dealer to call the state police for a background check of the potential gun owner. Purchasing a rifle or hunting gun in Illinois carries a smaller wait time of 24 hours. Private sellers need not run a background check on a potential buyer and no wait time is legally mandated, but the seller must verify the purchaser’s FOID and keep a record of the ID number.

READ  Sell Or Trade Guns


A person may legally buy handguns and hunting rifles from either a licensed dealer or a private broker. Even so, many guns are illegal to possess in Illinois, including any rifle with a barrel length of 16 inches or a shotgun with a barrel of less than 18 inches (e.g. sawed-off shotgun). The law also prohibits possession of machine guns or any guns “from which more than one shot may be discharged by a single function of the trigger, including the frame or receiver of any such weapon.”