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Illinois generally prohibits any person from:

  • Knowingly purchasing or attempting to purchase a firearm with the intent to deliver that firearm to another person who is prohibited by federal or State law from possessing a firearm.1
  • Intentionally providing false or misleading information on a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives transaction record to purchase or attempt to purchase a firearm.2
  • Forging or materially altering a Firearm Owner’s Identification (“FOID”) card, as well as the knowing possession of a forged or materially altered FOID card with intent to use it to purchase firearms and ammunition.3
  • Knowingly or intentionally altering, changing, removing or obliterating the name of the importer’s or manufacturer’s serial number on any firearm.4 Possession of a firearm upon which any such importer’s or manufacturer’s serial number has been changed, altered, removed or obliterated is also prohibited.5
  • Delivering a firearm, while not being entitled to the possession of the firearm, knowing it to have been stolen or converted.6

Illinois also enacted a law in 2016 that explicitly criminalizes “firearms trafficking” but defines this term very narrowly. Under the new law, a person commits firearms trafficking if he or she does not have a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card and he or she brings, or causes to be brought, into Illinois, a firearm or firearm ammunition for the purpose of sale, delivery, or transfer to any other person or with the intent to sell, deliver, or transfer the firearm or firearm ammunition to any other person. The law exempts a non-resident who may lawfully possess a firearm in his or her resident state.7

Gun Tracing in Illinois

Firearm tracing involves the systematic tracking of firearms from manufacturer to purchaser for the purpose of aiding law enforcement in identifying firearm ownership and persons suspected of being involved in criminal activity. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) is the sole federal agency responsible for tracing firearms used in crimes and recovered at crime scenes.

Local law enforcement are required by state law, upon recovering a firearm that was used in the commission of any felony offense or upon recovering a firearm that appears to have been lost, mislaid, stolen or otherwise unclaimed, to use the best available information, including a firearms trace when necessary, to determine prior ownership of the firearm.8 Upon recovering a firearm from the possession of any person who is not permitted by federal or state law to possess a firearm, local law enforcement must use the best available information, including a firearms trace when necessary, to determine how and from whom the person gained possession of the firearm.9

When appropriate, local law enforcement are required to use ATF’s National Tracing Center for these purposes.10

Local law enforcement agencies are also required to utilize the Illinois Department of State Police Law Enforcement Agencies Data System (“LEADS”) Gun File to enter all stolen, seized, or recovered firearms as prescribed by LEADS regulations and policies.11


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  1. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-3.5(b).[]
  2. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-3.5(c).[]
  3. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/6.1(a), (b).[]
  4. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-5(a).[]
  5. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-5(b).[]
  6. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-3(A)(l). Illinois also provides for enhanced penalties for the crime of “gunrunning,” which is the transfer of three or more firearms involving the unlawful sale of firearms. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-3(A)(a).[]
  7. 2015 Ill. H.B. 6303.[]
  8. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-8(a).[]
  9. Id.[]
  10. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-8(b).[]
  11. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-8(c).[]