Possession of an Unregistered Firearm in Chicago

Updated on 01/27/2023 / Under

Whether you are facing charges for illegal gun possession, have recently purchased a firearm, or are considering a purchase, take the time to understand your legal rights as it pertains to guns in Chicago. Here we have provided answers to common questions about the possession of an unregistered firearm in Chicago, Illinois. If you have questions about the possession of a firearm, you should call an experienced Chicago gun lawyer today!

Illinois Firearm Possession Laws

In order to own a firearm in the state of Illinois, a resident must have a state-issued Firearm Owner's Identification (FOID) card. If you take the firearm outside of your home, you must have your FOID card on your person at all times. If you are not a resident of Illinois, you do not have to have a card as long as you meet the firearm possession criteria for your home state. 

Instructions for how to apply for a FOID card can be found here. A person may apply as long as they are NOT in any of the following categories:

  • Convicted felons
  • People adjudicated as mentally defective
  • Illegal residents or unlawful aliens
  • Individuals dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces
  • Convicted of domestic battery, misdemeanor or felony
  • Substance abuse history with any drug or narcotic in violation of state or federal law
person holstering a gun in their waistband, Possession of an Unregistered Firearm

Open carry is illegal in the state of Illinois. Concealed carry of handguns has been allowed since 2013. In order to be approved for concealed carry, you must complete a 16-hour firearm training. You must also have your FOID card on your person any time you are carrying your weapon. Automatic weapons, open carry of firearms, and firearm silencers are illegal in the state of Illinois.

What If I'm Caught Carrying an Unregistered Firearm in Illinois?

If you are carrying a firearm without registration or a FOID card, you are in violation of Illinois possession laws. If you are caught without registration, it is at minimum an automatic Class A misdemeanor. Penalties and charges increase under certain circumstances. These include:

  • Possession within 1000 feet of a school, park, courthouse, or public housing project. This violation is punishable as a Class 3 felony
  • Possession in any establishment that sells alcoholic beverages is considered a Class 4 felony
  • A second offense of possession of an unregistered firearm will be charged as a Class 3 felony
  • If you are hooded, robed, or masked while illegally in possession of a firearm, your charges will be classified as a Class 4 felony

Any weapons covered by the National Firearms Act (NFA) must also be registered in accordance with federal law. These weapons include:

  • A shotgun with barrel(s) of less than 18 inches in length
  • A weapon made from a shotgun where the modified result has a length of fewer than 26 inches or barrel(s) of less than 18 inches in length
  • A rifle with barrel(s) less than 16 inches in length
  • A weapon made from a rifle where the modified result has an overall length of fewer than 26 inches or barrel(s) of less than 16 inches in length
  • Any other weapon, as defined in subsection (e);
  • Machine guns
  • Any silencer (as defined in section 921 of title 18, United States Code)

FAQ: How to Beat a Gun Charge in Illinois

To learn more about weapons covered under the NFA, click here.

Punishment for Unlawful Firearm Possession in Illinois

Punishments for illegal firearm possession in Illinois vary by circumstance. The type of weapon, the location of possession, and the status of registration can all affect potential criminal charges.

If you are charged with illegal possession of a firearm because you did not have a FOID card but would qualify for one, your charge will be classified as a Class A misdemeanor. A class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year of jail time and a fine of up to $2500. If you fall into one of the above categories that exclude eligibility for a FOID card, you will be charged with a Class 3 felony. A class 3 felony is punishable by a five-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $25,000. 

Firearm charges for violation of Illinois concealed carry law are classified as a misdemeanor for the first offense and a class 3 felony for subsequent offenses. Illinois has restrictions on where firearms can be concealed carry. Even if you have a carry license, it is unlawful to possess a firearm in the following locations:

  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Public transportation facilities and vehicles
  • Government buildings
  • Bars and certain restaurants
  • Airports
  • Public parks, museums, and libraries

Possession of an illegal type of firearm, like a machine gun or firearm with a silencer, will result in a felony charge. A person may receive additional felony charges if they were found in illegal possession of a firearm while committing a crime. Someone with a felony record who is caught with illegal possession of firearms can be charged with a Class X felony, which carries up to 50 years in prison.

firearm laying on a table, Possession of an Unregistered Firearm

In order to carry a firearm in your vehicle, Illinois law states that you must have a FOID card, the weapons must be unloaded, and the weapon must be in a case that completely encloses it. If you are found to be in violation of these requirements, you may be charged with a class 4 felony. A felony is punishable by up to three years of prison time and a fine of up to $25,000.

Other types of unlawful possession include:

  • Possession of a firearm that is small enough to be concealed by someone under the age of 18
  • Possession of a firearm by a person under the age of 21 who has been convicted of a misdemeanor other than a traffic violation
  • Possession of firearm or ammunition by a delinquent under the age of 21
  • Possession of a firearm or ammunition by someone who is addicted to narcotics
  • Possession of a firearm or ammunition by a person who was in a mental institution within the last 5 years

Possession of multiple firearms may result in multiple weapons offenses. Again, a minimum firearm possession crime is punishable by a class A misdemeanor. Multiple violations may result in felony charges.

How Can You Register a Firearm?

To avoid unlawful possession violations, make sure to register your firearm. To begin the process you must first obtain a FOID card. In order to receive a FOID, you must go through the Firearms Services Bureau. You may visit the physical location in Springfield, Illinois, or go through their website isp.illinois.gov/Foid. If you meet the requirements then you may apply for and receive your FOID card. After you have received your license, you will present it to the arms dealer at the time of purchase. They will run a background check and notify the FSB of your purchase if you are approved. 

Related Content: Changes to Chicago's Gun Laws

Contact a Chicago Weapons Charges Defense Attorney

If you are facing illegal weapons charges in the Chicago area, contact a defense attorney to help you with your case. Legal representation is your best shot at lessening your criminal offense charges and reducing your criminal penalties. At Ktenas Law, we create strong defenses with top-tier strategies to protect our client's rights. Even if you committed the crime, we will help seek minimal punishment so one mistake does not ruin your entire future. Contact us today for your free consultation. 

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