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Illinois treats certain non-powder guns as firearms, defining high-power and/or large caliber non-powder guns as firearms and thus making all purchase, possession and transfer requirements under state law applicable to these guns. Illinois excludes from the definition of firearms any pneumatic gun, spring gun, paint ball gun, or B-B gun which expels a single globular projectile not exceeding.18 inch in diameter or which has a maximum muzzle velocity of less than 700 feet per second or which expels breakable paint balls containing washable marking colors.1

Illinois law defines “air rifle” to mean an air gun, air pistol, spring gun, spring pistol, BB gun, paint ball gun, pellet gun, or any implement that is not a firearm which impels a breakable paint ball containing washable marking colors or, a pellet constructed of hard plastic, steel, lead, or other hard materials with force that reasonably is expected to cause bodily harm.2 Illinois prohibits anyone from selling or otherwise transferring air rifles to anyone under the age of 13, where the seller knows or has cause to believe that the person is under 13 years of age or where the seller failed to make reasonable inquiry into the age of the person.3 This does not apply to transfers taking place between parent and child, teacher and pupil, or guardian and ward.4 Nor do these provisions apply to sales: 1) by wholesale dealers or jobbers; 2) to be shipped out of the state; or 3) to be used at a target range operated in accordance with state law or by members of the Armed Services of the United States or Veterans’ organizations.5

In Illinois it is illegal to discharge any air rifle from or across any street, sidewalk, road, highway, or public land or public place except on a safely constructed target range.6 It is also illegal for a person under 13 years of age to carry any air rifle on public streets or lands unless the person carries the air rifle unloaded.7 A person under 13 is allowed to possess an air rifle if it is:

  • Kept within his or her house of residence or other private enclosure;
  • Used by a person who is a duly enrolled member of any club or team which maintains as part of its facilities or has written permission to use an indoor or outdoor rifle range under the supervision of a responsible adult; or
  • Used on private grounds under circumstances so that, when it is fired, it will not endanger persons or property.8

The above regulations do not invalidate any ordinances enacted by a local municipality within the state which imposes greater restrictions or limitations with respect to the sale, purchase, use, or possession of air rifles.9


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  1. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/1.1.[]
  2. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24.8-0.1.[]
  3. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24.8-1.[]
  4. Id.[]
  5. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24.8-4.[]
  6. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24.8-2[]
  7. Id.[]
  8. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24.8-3.[]
  9. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24.8-6.[]