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Constitutional Carry in Illinois: What If the State Law is Repealed?

Since the failure this week of the latest comprehensive legislation to allow the issuing of conceal and carry permits for handguns in Illinois, there is now a legitimate possibility that the state will fail to pass any legislation on handgun permits before the June 9th deadline set in December by a Federal Appellate court. If that does happen, the state will become a constitutional carry state by law, meaning it will be legal to carry a loaded weapon without a permit where local law does not forbid it.

Without state progress on crafting a new law, it would then become legal to have a concealed handgun on your person on many public streets and most importantly it would become legal to travel through Illinois with a loaded firearm in the center console of your car, for example, without a permit at all. Previously, it was illegal to have any loaded firearm easily accessible to anyone in car, regardless of the owner holding the right to carry the firearm in another state. The struck-down law used to require that firearms in automobiles to be “unloaded and enclosed in a case,” but the federal court found that it violated citizens second amendment rights to bear arms.

Although it is most likely that the attorney general, Lisa Madigan, will appeal the court’s December ruling, at this point, Illinois is set on the court to miss the deadline and become a constitutional carry state. Without any action by the attorney general, the Illinois law that made it illegal to carry a loaded weapon on your person or in your car would become invalid. Despite the invalidation of the state law, it may still be illegal to possess a firearm in certain places by some federal laws or by county or municipal ordinances.

For example, Aurora and Rockford are the second and third largest cities in Illinois respectively. Aurora has a local ordinance making concealed carry illegal, so the state law’s repeal will not have any noticeable effects.  However, Rockford has no local law against carrying a concealed firearm, only against carrying a firearm in an automobile easily accessible by the driver. There is also a law against discharging a weapon in the city limits. Although that functionally eliminates the legality of constitutional carry, it will be technically legal in this situation. In all, local municipalities have widely disparate and unique laws regarding what firearms are legal to carry, so check your local municipal code for more information.

Despite the spaghetti bowl of state laws, Federal law clearly restricts the carrying of firearms in all Federal Government Facilities, including:

  • Post Offices
  • IRS offices
  • Federal Court buildings
  • Military and Veterans Affairs facilities
  • Amtrak Trains and Facilities
  • Some Federal Park Facilities*

Would this new situation make it easier to buy firearms?

No, the invalidation of the state ban will only affect the ability to carry a firearm in public. Buying firearms will still require a state permit and a Federal Ownership Identification (FOID) card issued by the Illinois State Police.

Would it now be legal to carry firearms or ammunition in Cook County and/or the City of Chicago?

No, Cook County and the City of Chicago still have comprehensive ordinances against carrying any weapon concealed anywhere but inside your home, separate from the invalidated state law. It is still illegal to carry any ammunition in Cook County and the City of Chicago without a valid Chicago Firearms Permit and the valid registration of a firearm of that caliber.

Would it be legal to carry firearms on public transit?

Yes, although the Chicago ordinance forbids it on CTA vehicles, it would become legal to carry a concealed weapon on public transit where there is no local ordinance against it.

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