See our Background Checks policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

Illinois is a point of contact state for the NICS.1 Federally licensed firearms dealers must contact the Illinois Department of State Police (“DSP”) for a background check before transferring any firearm.2 The DSP searches its criminal history record information files, the FBI and NICS databases, and the files of the Department of Human Services relating to mental health and developmental disabilities to verify that prospective purchasers are not prohibited from possessing a firearm.3 The DSP must approve the transfer or inform the dealer of the applicant’s ineligibility within the waiting periods set forth by state law, which are 24 hours for long guns and 72 hours for handguns.4

Illinois requires DSP to report to local law enforcement the name and address of a person attempting to purchase a firearm who is disqualified from doing so.5

Except at gun shows (see the Gun Shows in Illinois section for more information on background check requirements at gun shows), private firearms sellers (i.e., persons who are not federally licensed) are not required to conduct background checks in Illinois, but all sellers must be presented with a prospective purchaser’s Firearm Owner’s Identification card.6 With certain limited exceptions, any private seller of a firearm who seeks to transfer a firearm to any unlicensed purchaser must, prior to transfer, contact the Department of State Police (DSP) with the transferee’s Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card number to determine the validity of the transferee’s FOID Card.7 Federal and state purchaser prohibitions also apply to private firearms transfers.

See our Private Sales policy summary for more on this issue.

Notes
  1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map. ⤴︎
  2. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3.1. ⤴︎
  3. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3.1. ⤴︎
  4. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3.1; 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-3(A)(g). ⤴︎
  5. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3.3. ⤴︎
  6. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(a). ⤴︎
  7. 430 Ill. Comp. Stat. 65/3(a-10). ⤴︎