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On January 10, 2023, Illinois became the 9th state to pass comprehensive legislation to generally ban commerce and possession of assault weapons.1

Subject to narrow exceptions,2 this law made it immediately unlawful to knowingly manufacture, deliver, sell, import, or purchase a firearm classified as an assault weapon, or to cause another person to manufacture, deliver, sell, import, or purchase a firearm classified as an assault weapon.3 These restrictions also apply to “assault weapon attachments,” meaning any device capable of being attached to a firearm that is specifically designed to make or convert a firearm into a restricted assault weapon.4

The law also generally makes it unlawful to knowingly possess an assault weapon or assault weapon attachment in the state after January 1, 2024.5 The law provides an exception for people to remain in continued possession of assault weapons they legally obtained and possessed before the assault weapons law went into effect, if they comply with a set of requirements and limitations on public use and carry.6 People who wish to qualify for this exemption and remain in lawful possession of an assault weapon, are required to electronically submit an endorsement affidavit form to the Illinois State Police by October 1, 2023, with specified information including the weapon’s make, model, and serial number and the person’s Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card number.7 This process will allow the State Police to record and verify that the person is in lawful possession and qualified for an exemption to the broader assault weapons law. The law also includes limitations to generally prevent these exempt legacy assault weapons from being used or carried in most public locations. Beginning April 10, 2023, (90 days after the effective date of the assault weapons law), Illinois law generally permits people to possess assault weapons and assault weapon attachments only on their own private property, or with the express permission of another person to carry on private property that is not open to the public, or in certain other designated locations such as a licensed firing range, or while traveling to or from these permissible locations if the assault weapon is kept unloaded and enclosed in a case or container during transport.8 (New residents to the state who wish to bring an assault weapon or attachment into the state must apply for a FOID Card and submit an assault weapon endorsement application within 60 days).9

Illinois’ law classifies firearms as assault weapons if (1) they are included on a list of specific firearm models or are copies, duplicates, variants, or altered facsimiles with the capability of those specified firearms, or (2) if they include certain combinations of features or characteristics that are indicative of assaultive purposes.10 For example, this characteristics or features standard generally defines semiautomatic rifles as assault weapons if they are:

  • Semiautomatic rifles that have fixed large-capacity magazines holding over 10 rounds of ammunition (not including an attached tubular device designed to accept and capable of operating only with .22 caliber rimfire ammunition).
  • Semiautomatic rifles that have the capacity to accept detachable magazines or that may be readily modified to accept detachable magazines, if they also have at least one of the following assaultive features:
    • A pistol grip or thumbhole stock
    • Any feature capable of functioning as a protruding grip that can be held by the non-trigger hand
    • A folding, telescoping, thumbhole, or detachable stock, or a stock that is otherwise foldable or adjustable in a manner that operates to reduce the length, size, or any other dimension, or otherwise enhances the concealability of the weapon
    • A flash suppressor
    • A grenade launcher
    • A shroud attached to the barrel or that partially or completely encircles the barrel, allowing the bearer to hold the firearm with the non-trigger hand without being burned, but not including a slide that encloses the barrel.

Similar standards also apply to classify certain semiautomatic pistols and shotguns as assault weapons, as well as shotguns with revolving cylinders, and any part or combination of parts designed or intended to convert a firearm into an assault weapon.


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  1. See 2021 IL HB 5471 (enacted Jan. 10, 2023); 720 ILCS 5/24-1.9.[]
  2. See 720 ILCS 5/24-1.9(e) for assault weapon exemptions.[]
  3. 720 ILCS 5/24-1.9(b). See also 720 ILCS 5/24-1(a)(11), (15), (16).[]
  4. See 720 ILCS 5/24-1.9(a)(3).[]
  5. 720 ILCS 5/24-1.9(c).[]
  6. See 720 ILCS 5/24-1.9(d).[]
  7. See 720 ILCS 5/24-1.9(d); 430 ILCS 65/4.1.[]
  8. Id.[]
  9. Id.[]
  10. For Illinois law’s definition of “assault weapon,” see 720 ILCS 5/24-1.9(a)(1), (2).[]