Illinois was the last state in the nation to legalize possession and concealed carry of a loaded firearm outside of the home or office. The Firearm Concealed Carry Act became effective on January 1, 2014, and can be found at 430 ILCS 66.
The long-standing ban on concealed firearms in Illinois was declared unconstitutional in 2012 by the United States Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Moore v. Madigan.1 Thus, on July 9, 2013, Illinois passed the Firearm Concealed Carry Act2 (hereinafter “the Act”), which provides a legal framework for issuing concealed carry permits. The Firearm Owners Identification (“FOID”) Act3 was also amended to permit the licensing and legal transportation of concealed firearms. While, the FOID Act prohibits municipal Assault Weapons Bans (AWB), it provides an exemption for laws that were enacted within the 10 days of the passage of the July 9, 2013, legislation.4 The exception is also known as the “Grandfather Clause Exemption.”
The Act’s passage broadly affects citizens of Illinois, including prospective licensure applicants, members of law enforcement, and employers. Thus, familiarity of the new law is prudent.
Analysis of the language of the Act raises crucial questions. Namely, the definition of a “concealed firearm” is unclear. Under the Act, a “concealed firearm” is defined as “a loaded or unloaded handgun carried on or about a person completely or mostly concealed from view of the public or on or about a person within a vehicle.”5 No guidance is provided as to what constitutes a “mostly concealed” weapon carried about a person. This leaves law enforcement, prosecutors, and the general public without certainty as to how to be in compliance with concealed carry law. The Illinois legislature should clarify this ambiguity for the benefit of all Illinois citizens and law enforcement.
However, the Act does provide a more substantive definition of “handgun.” Under the Act, a handgun is defined as “any device which is designed to expel a projectile or projectiles by the action of an explosion, expansion of gas, or escape of gas that is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand.”6 The term “handgun,” however, does not include stun guns or Tasers; a machine gun as defined in item (i) of paragraph (7) of subsection (a) of Section 24-1 of the Criminal Code of 2012; a short-barreled rifle or shotgun as defined in item (ii) of paragraph (7) of subsection (a) of Section 24-1 of the Criminal Code of 2012; or any pneumatic gun, spring gun, paint ball gun, or B-B gun.7
As of March 1, 2014, the Illinois State Police had issued 35,200 concealed carry licenses with another 16,000 awaiting approval. The licenses are valid for 5 years from the date of issuance.8 Prospective applicants must meet every eligibility rule to obtain an Illinois Concealed Carry License.9 According to the outlined requirements, applicants must be at least 21 years old and have a current and valid Firearm Owners Identification Department (FOID) card. 10 The applicant must also not be prohibited under federal law from possessing or receiving a firearm. Additionally, the applicant cannot have been convicted or found guilty in any state of either a misdemeanor involving the use or threat of physical force or violence to any person within the last 5 years from the date of application, or 2 or more violations related to driving while under the influence of alcohol, other drug or drugs, intoxicating compound or compounds, or any combination thereof, within the last 5 years from the date of application. Further, the applicant cannot be the subject of a pending arrest warrant, prosecution, or proceeding for an offense or action that could lead to disqualification, or have been in residential or court-ordered treatment for alcoholism, alcohol detoxification, or drug treatment within the last 5 years. The applicant is also required to submit a completed Concealed Carry License application.11
The eligibility requirement information and a checklist for prospective applicants are conveniently available for reference on the Illinois State Police’s website,12 which also hosts the application for the Illinois Concealed Carry License.13 All applicants must submit a full set of fingerprints in electronic format14 that were taken at a licensed Illinois live-scan vendor or registered law enforcement agency authorized to submit fingerprints for CCL purposes.15 Additionally, all applicants must submit a photo taken within the past 30 days, even if they were photographed as part of the fingerprinting process.16 The requisite fees are $150 for Illinois residents and $300 for out-of-state residents.17 A 16-hour firearms training course, including both classroom and range instruction must be completed.18 A certificate of completion of the firearm training course will not be issued if the student fails to hit the target with 70% of the rounds fired during the range firing portion of testing.19 Proof of certification by a certified instructor that the live fire exercise was passed is necessary to obtain a license.20
The Act also mandates that the firearms training course required to obtain a license must, at a minimum, cover the following topics:21 Firearms Safety - a minimum of 1 hour; Basic Principles of Marksmanship - a minimum of 1 hour; Care, Cleaning, Loading and Unloading of a Concealable Firearm – a minimum of 1 hour; All Applicable State and Federal Laws Relating to the Ownership, Storage, Carry and Transportation of a Firearm (including but not limited to the appropriate and lawful interaction with law enforcement while transporting or carrying a concealed firearm) – a minimum of 2 hours; and Weapons Handling - a minimum of 1 range hour. The live fire exercise requires the following with a concealable firearm:22 A minimum of 30 rounds 10 rounds from a distance of 5 yards, 10 rounds from a distance of 7 yards, and 10 rounds from a distance of 10 yards at a B-27 silhouette target approved by the Illinois State Police. The firearms training course must be taught by an Illinois State Police approved instructor.23 An approved, certified firearms instructor can be found by using the Illinois State Police’s online registry.24
The Act also provides that certain individuals are exempt from the firearm training requirement, including those qualified to carry a firearm as active law enforcement officers, those who have been certified as a firearms instructor by the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board, and those who have completed the required training and have been issued a firearm control card by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.25 In these cases, the applicant must submit verification that the training requirements for the FCC card have been completed. The Act provides relaxed requirements for active, retired, and honorably discharged members of the United States Armed Forces, in that they shall be deemed to have completed 8 hours of the 16 hour training requirement.26 Additionally, applicants who have completed a training course that is approved by the Department and recognized under the laws of another state may be deemed to have completed 8 hours of training toward the 16 hour training requirement.27
An applicant who meets the qualification requirements of 430 ILCS 66/25, provides the completed application and required documentation requirements of 430 ILCS 66/30, and “does not pose a threat to himself, herself, or others, or a threat to public safety”28 shall be issued a license to carry a concealed firearm.29 The Act, however, also allows law enforcement agencies the option to object to the issuance of a CCL to an applicant based upon “a reasonable suspicion that the applicant is a danger to himself or herself or others, or a threat to public safety.”30 Objections made within 30 days of the applicant’s entry into the database will be submitted to the Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board within 10 days of completion of all necessary background checks by the Department of State Police.31 The Department of State Police is also required to object and submit to the Board arrest records of certain applicants. 32 Specifically, the Department must submit to the Board arrest records of applicants with 5 or more arrests entered into the Criminal History Records Information System in the 7 years preceding the date of application, and applicants with 3 or more arrests for gang-related offenses in the 7 years preceding the date of application.33 If the application is denied, the Department must notify the applicant stating the grounds for the denial and inform the applicant of his or her right to an appeal through administrative and judicial review.34
For prospective licensees, the application process is only the first step. It is also crucial to understand what the license permits the holder to do, which is why the Act, including its definitions, merits study. For example, the Act states that the firearm must be either concealed or partially concealed, whether loaded or unloaded, on or about the person or within a vehicle.35 Thus, licensees will not be able to carry firearms openly. Licensees are also required to adhere to certain administrative concerns. These concerns include the provision that CCL holders notify the Department of State Police within 30 days of changing their residence or name, submit a notarized statement to that effect including the prior address and/or name, and pay the fee.36 Further, CCL holders must notify the Department within 10 days of discovering that a license has been lost, destroyed, or stolen.37 To request a replacement CCL, the licensee must submit a notarized statement that the licensee no longer has possession of the license and the reason, along with a copy of any police report (for stolen licenses), and pay the fee.38
While the Act generally allows the carry of concealed firearms for those with a license, there are certain exceptions. Licensees are prohibited from carrying a concealed firearm “while under the influence of alcohol, other drug or drugs, intoxicating compound or combination of compounds, or any combination thereof.”39 Another prohibition for licensees in the Act lists over 23 categories of places where carrying a concealed firearm is prohibited.40 The following areas will prohibit the carrying of a concealed weapon: Schools, including elementary, secondary, pre-schools and child care facilities (operators of a child care facility in a family home may possess a firearm, but must keep it in a locked container any time a child under care is present in the home) State property under the control of the executive, legislative and judicial branches (except designated hunting areas or buildings where firearms are permitted by the Department of Natural Resources) Local government buildings Adult or juvenile detention centers, prisons, jails or other correctional institutions Hospitals, mental health facilities and nursing homes Buses, trains and other forms of public transportation, as well as buildings, property or parking lots under the control of a public transportation facility Bars (defined as any establishment that serves alcohol, if more than 50% of its gross receipts are from the sale of alcohol) Public gatherings and special events on property open to the public that requires a permit issued by a unit of local government (street fairs, “taste of” events, festivals, etc.) Any building or property issued a Special Event Retailer’s License for the sale of alcohol Any public playground Parks and athletic fields under the control of a city or park district (does not include a trail or bike path, if only a portion of the trail or bike path includes a public park) Property under control of the Cook County Forest Preserve District Public and private universities, colleges and community colleges, including classrooms, athletic venues, hospitals, laboratories, performance halls and galleries, as well as parking areas, sidewalks and common areas Gaming facilities, horse racing tracks and off-track betting parlors Stadiums, arenas, and college and professional sports facilities Public libraries Airports Amusement parks Zoos and museums Nuclear power plants or other facilities regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (no vehicle “safe haven”) Any area where firearms are prohibited by federal law (no vehicle “safe haven”) The parking lot, or “safe haven” exemption, states that any licensee may carry their concealed firearm in a vehicle into a prohibited parking area (except federally prohibited areas and areas regulated by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission) as long as it is concealed in a case within a locked vehicle or locked container out of plain view within the vehicle. 41 A licensee may carry a concealed firearm in the immediate area around the vehicle only for the limited purpose of storing or retrieving it from the trunk BUT the firearm MUST be unloaded prior to exiting the vehicle.42 Therefore, the Act ushers in practical and logistical concerns and licensees should be mindful of their unique responsibilities under the new law. Additionally, there are specific provisions for universities, colleges, and community colleges.43 These provisions state that these institutions: May prohibit persons from carrying firearms within any vehicle owned or controlled by the college or university May establish their own policies involving discipline May establish their own policies regarding storage and maintenance of firearms, to include designated areas for parking vehicles that carry firearms May permit carrying and use of firearms for recognized programs, such as a shooting club, firearm instruction, military science and law enforcement training. Private property owners and employers who do not operate within the context of a prohibited area (as discussed above) that would like to ban guns on their property have the right to do so.44 However, unless the property is a private residence, private property owners must post a sign stating that the carrying of firearms is prohibited.45
Illinois State Police has approved a standardized sign. 46 Private property owners (that are not residences) must post the official, standardized 4 x 6 inch sign indicating that firearms are prohibited on their properties.47 Further, businesses with 50% gross profit from alcohol sales are required to display the standardized sign above.48 Employers and property owners who wish to protect their rights and evade any possible future liabilities should take note of these compliance requirements related to signage.
The Firearm Concealed Carry Act inevitably affects all Illinois citizens. Now effective as law, anyone carrying a concealed firearm on his or her person within the state of Illinois must be licensed pursuant to the Act.49 Law enforcement, business and property owners, and school administrators all have responsibilities under the Act.50 It is important that each citizen contemplate the various aspects of the Act in order to be certain he or she is in compliance with the new law individually, as an employer, or as the owner of a business or property.
1 702 F.3d 933 (7th Cir. 2012).
2 PA 098-0063.
3 430 ILCS 65/0.01.
4 430 ILCS 65/13.1, §13.1(c).
5 430 ILCS 66/5, §5. (Emphasis added).
6 430 ILCS 66/5, §5.
7 430 ILCS 66/5, § 5.
8 430 ILCS 66/10, § 10(c).
9 430 ILCS 66/25, § 25(1)-(6).
10 430 ILCS 66/25, § 25(1)-(6).
11 Includes providing information and details regarding any positive drug test within the last year from date of application. 430 ILCS 66/30, § 30(b)(6).
12 https://ccl4illinois.com/ccw/Public/Home.aspx > “New Applicants” > “Am I eligible?”
13 See Illinois State Police website for additional information regarding the application and fingerprinting process.
14 430 ILCS 66/30, § 30(b)(8).
15 List of licensed live-scan fingerprint vendors available here: https://www.idfpr.com/licenselookup/fingerprintlist.asp. Any vendor not on this list is not properly licensed and prints from any unlisted vendor will not be accepted.
16 430 ILCS 66/30, § 30(b)(9).
17 430 ILCS 66/60, § 60(b)-(c).
18 430 ILCS 66/75, § 75(b).
19 430 ILCS 66/75, § 75(e).
20 430 ILCS 66/75, § 75(c).
21 430 ILCS 66/75, § 75(b).
22 430 ILCS 66/75, § 75(c).
23 430 ILCS 66/80.
24 https://ccl4illinois.com/ccw/Public/FindInstructor.aspx .
25 430 ILCS 66/75, § 75(h).
26 430 ILCS 66/75, § 75(i).
27 List of approved courses available: https://www.isp.state.il.us/appriss/ccw/CCWPriorTrainingCredit.pdf
28 As determined by the Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board in accordance with Section 20 of the Act - 430 ILCS66/20, § 20.
29 430 ILCS 66/10, § 10(a)(1)-(4).
30 430 ILCS 66/15, § 15(a).
31 430 ILCS 66/15, § 15(a).
32 430 ILCS 66/15, § 15(b).
33 430 ILCS 66/15, § 15(b).
34 430 ILCS 66/10, § 10(f ).
35 430 ILCS 66/10, § 10(c)(1)-(2).
36 430 ILCS 66/55, § 55(a).
37 430 ILCS 66/55, §55(b).
38 430 ILCS 66/55, §55(b).
39 430 ILCS 66/70, § 70(d).
40 430 ILCS 66/65, § 65(a).
41 430 ILCS 66/65, § 65(b).
42 430 ILCS 66/65, § 65(b).
43 430 ILCS 66/65, § 65(a-5).
44 430 ILCS 66/65, § 65(a-10).
45 430 ILCS 66/65, § 65 (a-10), (d).
46 Business owners can obtain detailed information about required signage, including a printable template (Concealed Carry Prohibited Area Sign (PDF)), at https://ccl4illinois.com/ccw/Public/Signage.aspx
47 430 ILCS 66/65, § 65 (a-10), (d).
48 430 ILCS 66/65, § 65(a)(9).
49 Except active and current police officers and certain retired personnel – see https://ccl4illinois.com/ccw/Public/ISPFaq.aspx
50 430 ILCS 66/105, § 105; Section 6-103.3, Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code; Section 1.1, Firearm Owners Identification Card Act.
Timothy P. Martin is a former DuPage County Felony Assistant Prosecutor under former Attorney General Jim Ryan and Appellate Court justice Joe Birkett. Tim is a former DuPage County Board Member and a two term President of the DuPage County Criminal Defense Bar Association. Recently, Tim served a 7 year term as Commissioner on the Illinois Racing Board following the appointment by the Governor of Illinois. He is a past co-chairman of the Illinois judicial Review Board of the state of Illinois and is a graduate of the John Marshall Law School where he served as an Editor for the John Marshall Law Review publishing an article in the area of criminal law – Brock v. State.