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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

Illinois requires the Department of State Police to report to local law enforcement the name and address of any person who attempts to purchase a firearm who is disqualified from doing so.8

Legislation enacted in 2021 directs the State Police (within 90 days after January 1, 2022) to establish a portal for use by law enforcement agencies identifying people whose FOID Cards have been revoked or suspended, and indicating whether the person has already complied with relinquishment requirements.9  This law also directs the State Police to operate a task force responsible for conducting enforcement operations against people who fail to comply with relinquishment requirements, prioritizing individuals presenting a clear and present danger to themselves or to others, in collaboration with local law enforcement agencies.10.)) 

The same 2021 legislation11 also requires the State Police to develop and make available by July 1, 2022, a publicly accessible Internet-based system listing the serial numbers of firearms that have been reported stolen so people may check the system prior to the sale or transfer of a firearm to ensure the gun has not reported as stolen.12

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.

Illinois law requires law enforcement, upon recovering a firearm from the possession of anyone who is not permitted by federal or state law to possess a firearm, to use the best available information, including a firearms trace when necessary, to determine how and from whom the person gained possession of the firearm.13 Upon recovering a firearm that was used in the commission of a felony offense or a firearm that appears to have been lost, mislaid, stolen or otherwise unclaimed, law enforcement are also required to use the best available information, including a firearms trace when necessary, to determine prior ownership of the firearm.14

Legislation enacted in 2021 also requires that whenever a law enforcement agency recovers a fired cartridge case at a crime scene or has reason to believe that the recovered fired cartridge case is related to or associated with the commission of a crime, the law enforcement agency must submit the evidence to the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN) or an Illinois State Police laboratory for NIBIN processing.15 Similarly, this law requires that whenever a law enforcement agency seizes or recovers a semiautomatic firearm that is deemed suitable to be entered into the NIBIN that was: (i) unlawfully possessed, (ii) used for any unlawful purpose, (iii) recovered from the scene of a crime, (iv) is reasonably believed to have been used or associated with the commission of a crime, or (v) is acquired by the law enforcement agency as an abandoned or discarded firearm, the law enforcement agency must submit the evidence to the NIBIN or an Illinois State Police laboratory for NIBIN processing. When practicable, all NIBIN-suitable evidence and NIBIN-suitable test fires from recovered firearms shall be entered into the NIBIN within 2 business days of submission to Illinois State Police laboratories that have NIBIN access or another NIBIN site. Upon receipt at the laboratory with NIBIN access, when practicable, the evidence and test fires must generally be entered into the NIBIN within 2 business days.16

When appropriate, local law enforcement are required to use ATF’s National Tracing Center and the National Crime Information Center of the FBI for these purposes.17

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.18


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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. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3.3.[]
  9. 2021 IL HB 562 (enacting 20 Ill. Comp. Stat. 2605-304).[]
  10. 2021 IL HB 562 (enacting 20 Ill. Comp. Stat. 2605-605(7)-(10[]
  11. 2021 IL HB 562.[]
  12. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(a-25).[]
  13. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-8(a).[]
  14. Id.[]
  15. See 2021 IL HB 562 (enacting 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-8(d).[]
  16. Id.[]
  17. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-8(b).[]
  18. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-8(c).[]