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Illinois enacted a ghost gun reform bill in 2022 (enacted May 18, 2022).1 As detailed below, some of its key provisions became effective immediately in May 2022; others were set to become effective on November 14, 2022, after a 180 day implementation period.

Subject to narrow exceptions (such as for antique or permanently inoperable firearms),2 Illinois’s law made it unlawful (effective immediately in May 2022) for any person to knowingly sell, offer to sell, or transfer either (1) an unserialized firearm or (2) an unserialized unfinished frame or receiver to a buyer that is not a federally licensed firearms manufacturer, dealer, or importer.3 (See footnotes for definitions of the terms “unserialized” and “unfinished frame or receiver”.)4

Effective 180 days after enactment (beginning November 14, 2022), the law broadens its more immediate restrictions on selling or transferring unserialized firearms and unserialized unfinished frames or receivers to also generally prohibit (1) knowingly possessing, transporting, or receiving an unserialized unfinished frame or receiver5 and (2) knowingly possessing, transporting, receiving, or purchasing an unserialized firearm.6 (These restrictions are subject to certain exceptions, including if the unfinished frame or receiver is possessed or transported for transfer to a licensed firearms importer or manufacturer or the party possessing or receiving the unserialized firearm or unfinished frame or receiver is a federally licensed importer or manufacturer).7 The law provided processes for how people in possession of unserialized firearms and unserialized unfinished frames and receivers could lawfully get their weapon serialized prior to November 14, 2022, and required federally licensed dealers and other authorized federal licensees imprinting those serial numbers to maintain records of those serial numbers and confirm the validity of the owner’s Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card prior to returning the weapon to the owner.8


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  1. 2021 IL HB 4838 (adding a new 720 ILCS 5/24-5.1).[]
  2. See 20 ILCS 5/24-5.1(h) regarding exceptions to the ghost gun law’s requirements.[]
  3. 720 ILCS 5/24-5.1(b).[]
  4. All relevant terms are defined in 720 ILCS 5/24-5.1(a):

    The term “Unserialized” is defined to mean that the firearm or unfinished frame or receiver is “lacking a serial number imprinted by [one of the following]: (1) a federal firearms manufacturer, federal firearms importer, federal firearms dealer, or other federal licensee authorized to provide marking services, pursuant to a requirement under federal law; or (2) a federal firearms dealer or other federal licensee authorized to provide marking services pursuant to subsection (f) of [720 ILCS 5/24-5.1].”

    The term “Unfinished frame or receiver” is defined strongly to mean “any forging, casting, printing, extrusion, machined body, or similar article that: (1) has reached a stage in manufacture where it may readily be completed, assembled, or converted to be a functional firearm; or (2) is marketed or sold to the public to become or be used as the frame or receiver of a functional firearm once completed, assembled, or converted.”[]
  5. 720 ILCS 5/24-5.1(c).[]
  6. 720 ILCS 5/24-5.1(d).[]
  7. 720 ILCS 5/24-5.1(c).[]
  8. See 20 ILCS 5/24-5.1(f).[]