Illegal Gun Possession in Illinois


A new study out of the Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health finds that lawful gun owners commit less than a fifth of gun crimes in the United States. The study traced the origins of every firearm recovered from crime scenes in 2008 and found that in roughly eight out of ten cases the perpetrator had been in illegal possession of the gun at the time of the crime. The study focused on how legally purchased firearms ended up at crime scenes and found that more than 30% of the guns had been stolen.

However, firearms enter the black market in a variety of other ways, as well. For example, an article from the Washington Post notes that many guns wind up on the black market via “straw purchases.” A straw purchase occurs when an individual with a clean record purchases a gun from a legal dealer and then passes the gun along to someone else who could not legally purchase the weapon. Gangs often orchestrate straw purchases and sometimes even have a designated member who maintains a clean record in order to furnish other gang members with firearms. According to a study conducted by the University of Chicago Crime Lab, criminals in Chicago also tend to acquire illegal firearms mostly via personal connections.

Who is Legally Prohibited from Owning a Firearm in Illinois?

There are both federal laws as well as state laws that dictate who can legally purchase a gun within a particular state. Federal law, under 18 U.S.C. § 922(d), (g), prohibits firearms from being sold to several categories of people including anyone who:

  • Is under indictment for, or has been convicted of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year,
  • Is a fugitive,
  • Is an unlawful user of a controlled substance,
  • Has a mental defect or have been committed to a mental institution,
  • Is a foreigner who is unlawfully present in the United States,
  • Has been dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces,
  • Has renounced their U.S. citizenship,
  • Is subject to certain types of restraining orders, or
  • Has been convicted of domestic violence.

In Illinois, the purchase and possession of firearms is also restricted for people who:

  • Have been convicted of certain violent or gun-related misdemeanors,
  • Are considered to have a dangerous mental illness,
  • Are classified as a drug abuser, and
  • Certain juvenile offenders.

Providing False Information to Obtain a FOID Card is a Serious Crime in Illinois

In Illinois, prospective gun owners must obtain a Firearms Owners Identification (FOID) card before they can legally purchase a gun. Before the police will issue a FOID card the department runs the prospective gun owner’s name through both state and federal background check systems. Using false information to obtain a FOID card is a serious crime that can result in charges for entering false information on a FOID application and, if a firearm is actually sold to you, possession of a firearm without a valid FOID card.

Need Legal Advice?

If you live in the Chicago Metropolitan Area and are being investigated in connection with a weapons charge contact the Law Offices of David L. Freidberg today. Mr. Freidberg is a gun crime defense attorney who understands that the state of Illinois has extremely strict gun control rules and that sometimes law enforcement officials can become overzealous in interpreting what constitutes a valid weapons charge. Contact our office at (312) 560-7100 today to schedule a free consultation.


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Chicago Gun Law Issues

State Gun Control Laws, Do You Know Your Rights?

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