Illinois Concealed Carry for NON-Residents

Illinois does not recognize the concealed carry permits of other states. So how can someone who is frequently visiting Illinois, for work or personal reasons, exercise their 2nd Amendment rights?

Although the Firearm Concealed Carry Act intended to issue licenses to non-residents, the way the law is interpreted, only residents of Hawaii, New Mexico, South Carolina and Virginia are currently able to obtain them.  And that is after paying an application fee of $300, which is twice the fee for residents. Until there is a legislative “fix” to the law, no other non-residents will have the ability to get an Illinois license.

HOWEVER, non-residents who have a valid CCW permit from their own state may have a concealed firearm in their car.  By definition of the Act, this would include a loaded handgun in the passenger compartment of their car, but only in their car.  So they can “carry concealed” in Illinois within their vehicle.  When leaving the vehicle, the gun would have to either be left in the car:

  1. in a container, and
  2. either the container or the car itself must be locked

or, the gun would have to be unloaded and removed from the car.

Interestingly enough, this means that an Illinois resident who does not have a License to Carry is guilty of a felony for having a loaded gun in their car, but a non-resident is perfectly legal, as long as they have a permit from their own state. Many Illinoisans over the years have obtained non-resident concealed carry permits from states such as Utah and Florida, but that gives the Illinois resident NO right to carry in Illinois. The only ccw permits from other states that are “recognized” in Illinois are those of a non-resident, and then only for the express purpose of ‘carrying’ in their car while in Illinois.

Please note that the non-resident must have a ccw permit issued by their own state.

This is not legal advice.  Please read the law yourself:


430 ILCS 66/40)
    Sec. 40. Non-resident license applications.
    (a) For the purposes of this Section, "non-resident" means a person who has not resided within this State for more than 30 days and resides in another state or territory.
    (b) The Department shall by rule allow for non-resident license applications from any state or territory of the United States with laws related to firearm ownership, possession, and carrying, that are substantially similar to the requirements to obtain a license under this Act.
    (c) A resident of a state or territory approved by the Department under subsection (b) of this Section may apply for a non-resident license. The applicant shall apply to the Department and must meet all of the qualifications established in Section 25 of this Act, except for the Illinois residency requirement in item (xiv) of paragraph (2) of subsection (a) of Section 4 of the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act. The applicant shall submit:
        (1) the application and documentation required under
Section 30 of this Act and the applicable fee;
        (2) a notarized document stating that the applicant:
            (A) is eligible under federal law and the laws of
his or her state or territory of residence to own or possess a firearm;
            (B) if applicable, has a license or permit to
carry a firearm or concealed firearm issued by his or her state or territory of residence and attach a copy of the license or permit to the application;
            (C) understands Illinois laws pertaining to the
possession and transport of firearms; and
            (D) acknowledges that the applicant is subject to
the jurisdiction of the Department and Illinois courts for any violation of this Act;
        (3) a photocopy of any certificates or other evidence
of compliance with the training requirements under Section 75 of this Act; and
        (4) a head and shoulder color photograph in a size
specified by the Department taken within the 30 days preceding the date of the application.
    (d) In lieu of an Illinois driver's license or Illinois identification card, a non-resident applicant shall provide similar documentation from his or her state or territory of residence. In lieu of a valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card, the applicant shall submit documentation and information required by the Department to obtain a Firearm Owner's Identification Card, including an affidavit that the non-resident meets the mental health standards to obtain a firearm under Illinois law, and the Department shall ensure that the applicant would meet the eligibility criteria to obtain a Firearm Owner's Identification card if he or she was a resident of this State.
    (e) Nothing in this Act shall prohibit a non-resident from transporting a concealed firearm within his or her vehicle in Illinois, if the concealed firearm remains within his or her vehicle and the non-resident:
        (1) is not prohibited from owning or possessing a
firearm under federal law;
        (2) is eligible to carry a firearm in public under
the laws of his or her state or territory of residence, as evidenced by the possession of a concealed carry license or permit issued by his or her state of residence, if applicable; and
        (3) is not in possession of a license under this Act.
    If the non-resident leaves his or her vehicle unattended, he or she shall store the firearm within a locked vehicle or locked container within the vehicle in accordance with subsection (b) of Section 65 of this Act.
(Source: P.A. 98-63, eff. 7-9-13; 98-600, eff. 12-6-13; 99-78, eff. 7-20-15.)



Guns in the Car in Illinois WITHOUT a License to Carry

The most common MISCONCEPTION about gun laws in Illinois is that you cannot have the gun and ammunition together in the car.  Take a poll of any 10 gun owners and I bet you 7 of them will say that is true.  The only problem is, that it is not true.

The law is 720 ILCS 5/24.  It is crystal clear about what is and what is not legal, but for a very long time in Illinois an outdated brochure from the State Police caused a lot of confusion.

Here is what the law says:

  1. You must have a valid FOID card to be in possession of a firearm.
  2. You have three options to legally keep the gun in your car. You must meet ONE of the three options; all three are not required!
    1. The gun must be broken down in a non-firing condition (slide removed from a semi-auto, for instance) OR
    2. The gun must be “not immediately accessible” (this is subject to interpretation, but “usually” means out of arms reach), OR
    3. The gun must be unloaded and enclosed in a case or container.

Please note that having a loaded gun in the car is a FELONY if the gun is “immediately accessible.”  This is subject to interpretation and you probably don’t want to rely on you and the police officer agreeing what “immediately accessible” is, unless the gun is in the trunk. If it is in the trunk, I don’t think anyone can argue the point.

The other thing to note is that the “OR” language suggests that the gun COULD be loaded, if it is “not immediately accessible.”  HOWEVER, most police are not so familiar with every letter of the law and likely to say “you can’t have a loaded gun in the car.”  Then you have to post bond and get a lawyer… So having a loaded gun in the trunk is ill-advised.

The best way to ensure you are in compliance is “unloaded and enclosed in a case or container.”  The 2009 IL Supreme Court decision “People vs. Diggins” found that the center console of the car is acceptable, and therefore a glove box is also be fine.

Finally, while the gun must be UNLOADED, you are able to have a loaded magazine with the gun, as long as that loaded magazine is not inserted into the gun.


What Happens To You In a Gunfight

Shooting at paper for fun is a lot different than shooting at a bad guy who is trying to kill you.  All the training at the range cannot prepare you for the physiological changes that hit your body, but learning about them will help immensely.

Most people know that the adrenaline surge causes 1) elevated heart rate, 2) tunnel vision, 3) auditory exclusion, and 4) problems with fine motor skills.  But what can we do about these challenges?

According to LTC Dave Grossman, author of On Combat, the best thing we can do is address our breathing.  If the gunfight is over in an instant, then you haven’t got time for thinking, let alone breathing.  However, if the encounter is one that escalates over a period of time or drags on, it is critical to know that you can “command” your body to get back into line with deliberate breathing.

The fact is that controlled breathing is a biofeedback mechanism that tells your central nervous system to calm down and get a grip.  Slowly breathing in to a count of 4, holding for 4 seconds and exhaling over four seconds is what you want to do.  Breathing this way will mitigate many of the effects of the adrenaline in short order.

Reading  On Combat is a great idea for anyone carrying concealed.  You can get it here:

Illinois Concealed Carry – Is it Really Worth It?

I hear a lot of people complaining about the “Prohibited Areas” where you are not allowed to Carry in Illinois and some people will even say “It’s not worth it.”  However, these people are looking at the hole instead of the donut, as a quick look at the law will easily prove.  It is DEFINITELY worth it to get your License to Carry!

Now don’t get me wrong; I would change the list of Prohibited Areas in a heartbeat if I could. But realistically, how many of the “22 Areas” are even relevant to most of us in our daily life? Let’s look.

First, it must be noted that the vehicle “Safe Harbor” provision allows us to carry (or keep our gun) in our car anywhere except Federal Facilities (and no state law can trump Federal Law).

So, which of the following Prohibited Areas is really unreasonable or will ‘cramp your style’ on a daily basis? I will venture a guess and say that few of us can complain too much about the first six:

  • Prisons
  • Courtrooms
  • State or Local Government Buildings,
  • Nuclear Facilities 
  • Airports

The next six Prohibited Areas is more likely to be objectionable to those of us who want to carry, but on a daily basis it is probably no big deal (make no mistake about it, I would change it if I could… But does it REALLY affect most of us on a daily basis?):

  • Bars (venues that make most of their money from serving alcohol)
  • Libraries
  • Zoos / Museums
  • Riverboat Casinos and Horse Racing tracks or betting parlors
  • Stadiums / Arenas

That leaves the following areas where I would think we would prioritize changing the law:

  • Parks and Playgrounds
  • Public Transportation
  • Public Permitted Events, like carnivals or festivals
  • Colleges and Schools
  • Childcare Facilities
  • Amusement Parks
  • Hospitals
  • Cook County Forest Preserves (sorry for those of you who live in Cook County)

All in all, the Illinois Law is a great leap forward and, while we need to continue to work to refine it, we want and need as many Illinoisans as possible to exercise their rights! The more that do, the louder our voice becomes and the better the laws will get.

Guns Prohibited

Women, Guns and Self Defense

Should wives, daughters and sisters be armed? YES!

Ask any NRA instructor and you will learn that women are typically better shots than men, when both start off in a beginner’s class together. So if you are looking at an NRA Basic Pistol course with 5 men and 5 women who have never shot before, bet on the women to do better at the range at the end of the class!

This is chiefly because women don’t come into the class with the “macho” attitude that we men have: that we ‘should’ know how to handle a gun because we are men.  Women generally have fewer pre-conceived notions and listen more and develop their skills more quickly.

The worst thing that we men do to our sisters, wives and daughters is disempower them with the stereotypes of women as victims.  In the movies, it doesn’t matter how slowly the monster walks, he always overtakes the weeping, terrified woman who keeps falling down as she tries to run to safety!

A woman who can confidently carry a firearm can stop running, turn around and shoot the monster! But even if there are no monsters, the woman who can handle a gun carries with her more confidence in her ability to protect herself.

About the most dangerous situation I can imagine a woman being in is walking out to her car in a dark parking lot where a van with a sliding door is parked next to her driver’s side door.  Now in this particular situation, you wouldn’t want to walk out alone, lest you be grabbed and pulled into the van and kidnapped.  However, the woman who has trained with a gun has likely also developed her situational awareness so that she would know what to do.

The best thing we can do to empower the women in our lives is to give them the gift of safety that comes with firearms training.

Holsters for Concealed Carry

Watch this video of a US Marshall and his accidental (negligent) discharge.  Then read what I have to say about preventing this from ever happening!

You want to use a holster that allows you to take your gun off and on WITHOUT unholstering! This is the most dangerous part of carrying concealed – drawing and reholstering! I recommend an IWB holster with one clip — not two clips — so that you can easily remove it and replace it with the gun still in the holster. If the gun never leaves the holster, you can’t accidentally pull the trigger!

Understanding the Parking Lot Exemption When Carrying in Illinois

What if you are carrying in your car and you drive into the parking lot of a “prohibited area?”  The Illinois Concealed Carry License creates a “Safe Harbor” for your car, you have heard…. But… Are you legal only if you stay in your car?  Can  you put the gun in your trunk instead of leaving it in the passenger compartment?

1) As long as you stay in your car, you are perfectly within the law, EXCEPT if you are in the parking lot of a federal facility or a Nuclear Plant.* Federal facilities include any federal building or military installation.  The Illinois License to Carry “Safe Harbor” does NOT protect you on “federal property” where you are NOT allowed even to have a gun in your car.

2) Other than federal / military property, you can always stay in your car, or leave your gun in your car and be legal.

3) If you leave the gun in your car, it must be out of sight, in a “container” (which includes the glove box or center console) and if the car isn’t locked, then the container must be locked.

4) Some “Prohibited Areas” do not extend to the parking area.  For instance, you cannot carry in a state / municipal court building, but the parking lot is okay. The same applies for a “local government” building (think county / city / township / village… anything that is not State or Federal).

5) In any of these Prohibited Areas that extend to the Parking Area (except federal / military), you may  go directly to your trunk to store your gun as long as it is first unloaded.

There is a lot to know about the Illinois Concealed Carry Law, but once you understand it, it is not that complicated.

*The exact definition is ‘any facility that is regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.’

Another State to Recognize the Illinois License to Carry!

Beginning in March, 2015, the state of Ohio will honor the Illinois License to Carry.  This will bring to 24 the total number of states that you can carry in with your Illinois License.  The others are:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin.

I have not checked this for myself, but someone I have a lot of respect for tells me that this is all the “coverage” we will get, as the remaining states will not recognize our Illinois License without a reciprocity agreement.  However, with a non-resident Utah permit added to your Illinois License, you can carry in all of the following:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

If you add a non-resident Florida on top of that, you will be able to carry in the following states:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

What about the other states?  To name a few:  Colorado has open carry, South Carolina requires you to be a resident or property owner, California is a crazy state and a recent court ruling striking down “shall issue” needs to be understood. Pennsylvania is gun-friendly, so you can visit and get a permit in one day.





How to Pick a Carry Gun

What caliber is best? Revolver or Semi-Automatic? Full sized gun or subcompact?  How do you decide what carry gun is best for you?

In my opinion there are two primary concerns when choosing a carry gun.  That’s not to say that there are only two choices or considerations, but I believe that there are two facets that should drive your decision.

First of all, the gun must be easily concealable and comfortable.  Most people who are licensed to carry and who no longer carry daily stopped carrying because it was inconvenient. They had made the decision to carry a gun based on the caliber and perceived stopping power and, as a result, chose a gun that was too heavy and / or jabbed them in the side.  It was uncomfortable and by the end of the day it felt like they were carrying around a brick, so they started to neglect carrying.  Before they knew it, they were rarely even carrying.  The moral of the story is that the “undersized” gun that you really do carry every day is infinitely superior to the large, impressive gun that you end up not carrying.

Second, the gun must be one that you are absolutely proficient with, with the emphasis on absolutely.  If you have a gun that you are really good with, have been shooting for years and love, but then you go out and buy a smaller carry pistol, you are at a great disadvantage. The day that you may have to draw your carry weapon and use it, it will be absolutely necessary that you can accurately point-shoot, clear jams and even do a magazine change without thinking or looking.  That takes practice.  Don’t have time for practice?  Then just realize that if the gun jams and you can’t instantly and instinctively deal with it in an instant, you just have a concealed-paperweight that you can perhaps throw at the person threatening your life.

Practice. Then pactice some more.  Then practice more after that.

Know someone who needs to get their Illinois License to Carry? Click here for class information.

Which States Recognize the Illinois License, and What You Need to Know

The Illinois License to Carry is now recognized by 22 other states*. But the most important thing to know is what the laws are in each state where you may travel, as you have to comply with that state’s laws, and not Illinois’ law. The last thing you want to do is get into trouble and try pleading ignorance to a law enforcement officer or a judge.

Let’s start with what NOT to do.  Before traveling through another state, do NOT call the state police there and trust whatever you are told over the phone!  That is a recipe for disaster, because you have no idea who you are talking to and their level of knowledge and professionalism.

The best two resources to know the laws in all fifty states are and  While has a great map to quickly show where your Illinois license (and any other non-resident permits) are honored, provides you with a printable pdf of all the laws of each state.


First, look for “preemption” — meaning that the state law preempts local laws.  Preemption is what you want! Otherwise, you will need to know the laws of the various counties and municipalities where you travel.

Second, watch for laws regarding the necessity to inform law enforcement officials you have contact with that you are carrying.  (I always suggest the habit of volunteering that information right away, so you never have to worry what the state law is about disclosure.)


Want to know when classes are offered to get your Illinois License to Carry (or tell a friend)?  Click HERE.

States recognizing the Illinois License to Carry: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin