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.’