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  It is crystal clear about what is and what is not legal, but for a very long time in Illinois an outdated brochure from the State Police caused a lot of confusion.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