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How to Buy a Gun in Illinois

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There are two ways in which a person may legally buy a gun in Illinois. As you can imagine both methods are very heavily regulated by both the state and federal governments. This article will discuss how a new gun owner may buy a gun in Illinois.


The two methods how to buy a gun in Illinois would be to buy from a licensee or buy from a private party. A licensee is more commonly referred to as a gun store or gun dealer, and a private party would be any individual without the necessary state and federal licenses who wish to sell a gun. This article will focus on how a new gun owner may buy a gun in Illinois from a gun store. Another article previously written, How To Sell a Gun in Illinois, explains how private individuals may buy or sell guns to one another.


Step 1 Gun Owner Registration

Every gun owner in Illinois must be registered. This is what is called a Firearm Owner Identification card, or FOID for short. This can be done by going to the Illinois State Police (ISP) Firearm Services Bureau (FSB) website at, when the website actually is working. Or you can call the ISPFSB at 217-782-7980, however, be prepared to be on hold for 2 hours if you do call.

The FOID application will ask basic information such as name, address, driver’s license number, etc… The fee is $10 plus a convenience fee. The FOID card is currently valid for 10 years, although there are efforts to increase the fees, require fingerprints, and to reduce the term to 5 years.

According to state law, your new FOID card will arrive in the mail within 30 days unless the state determines you to be a prohibited person. However it is not unusual for someone to wait 3 or 4 months, and there is no penalty for the state to not comply with its laws.

You can not buy a firearm from a gun store or a private party without a FOID card. So, please be patient. (That part about patience was complete sarcasm).


Step 2 Buying the Gun

Once you have your FOID card in hand, you can now visit the gun store to buy your gun. Let’s assume you spent the last 3 or 4 months researching the best guns available, while you waited months for your FOID card to arrive. There are some great articles on the internet about choosing the right gun for you. One such article is, What is the Best Gun for Concealed Carry. While this article is specifically written regarding concealed carry guns, it does walk the reader through selection based on size, personal fit, lifestyle, etc… This is all great advice no matter what type of gun you are looking to buy.

After you’ve picked out and paid for your new gun, the dealer will ask you to fill out a federal form, the 4473. Also, the dealer may ask other information such as occupation and intended use of the gun, which are additional state of Illinois requirements. The dealer is required to keep this 4473 for not less than 20 years and turn these documents over to police upon request.  Some say the 4473 is a back door gun registry.


Step 3 Taking Possession of the gun.

Ok, goodbye! You can’t take possession yet. You have to wait at least 72 hours to take possession of your new gun. There is a 72 hour “cool down” waiting period in Illinois to buy a new gun. As if the 4 months you waited for your FOID card isn’t a long enough wait! But what’s worse is, it’s not unusual for this waiting period to go longer. I’ve personally waited 5 days before, and have heard as long as 10 days for some people.

In other states, dealers will call the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and receive an instant approval or denial on the background check, but not in Illinois. Most states do not even have anything similar to the FOID card.  In Illinois, the dealers are required to perform a Firearm Transfer Inquiry (FTIP), and the dealer will not release the firearm to you until they receive approval from the ISPFSB.

It is only now that you may take possession of your firearm. If you needed this firearm for self-defense, perhaps looters were in your neighborhood when you decided to buy the gun, receiving your gun 3 months later is no help to anyone.


A right delayed is a right denied. The FOID system has completely collapsed under its own weight and become a bottleneck to nonviolent civilians being able to exercise their right to self-preservation and self-defense.  Now you understand how to buy a gun in Illinois, however, if this process seems like a cumbersome train wreck, many would agree. If you feel this long drawn out process prevents people from defending themselves and places lives in danger, many would also agree. It is up to each of us, and this includes YOU, to defend your right to self-defense.  Take the next step and join multiple gun rights organizations. Write letters to your elected officials. We can change this if we all work together. There are 2.2 million gun owners in the state of Illinois, if we all speak up then we cannot be ignored. Your voice matters!  #VoidTheFOID

12 thoughts on “How to Buy a Gun in Illinois

  1. Spot on article! I love it! I’ve lived in IL for about 8 years and I’ve never considered getting a gun until recently with all of the violence and looting. Now that I’ve applied for a FOID card, I haven’t heated anything back. It’s been over a month and nothing! I’m a single mom with two small kids. How can I protect myself if someone wanted to hurt me or my family? I’ve never been arrested or even got a speeding ticket and now I’m waiting for approval to protect myself from a bloated buffoon government agency that doesn’t even answer the phone. While this incompetent agency sits on its hands, the rest of us suffer. Leaving IL becomes more of a plan each and every day that does by.

    1. Amen. It’s unconstitutional and our blowhard of a governor does respect the constitution. I hope it all works out for you.

    2. Thought I’d share my experience to let you know what to expect. After Corona, the toilet paper crisis and now all the non-peaceful riots, I decided to get a foid and buy my first firearm. Well I applied in March and just received approval about 20 days ago, at the end of Sept. Since its been almost seven months, a lot of things have happened and I moved temporarily out of state to go back to school. I have no idea if my foid card has reached my home in IL or not. So sorry to say, but you may be waiting for quite a while. I was alarmed to read in the article above that I may still need to wait for weeks to get possession of my firearm, once I return home.

      God speed and protection to all of you.

  2. Well this is spot on. Very frustrating. Website won’t work. So I attempted to call and that is “experiencing difficulties” I understand a “cool down” period when making the actual gun purchase but 90 days or more just for the FOID is crazy.

    1. Their phone system has been “experiencing difficulties” for at least 6 months now. Which means it isn’t – they’ve set it to play that message and then hang up on you so that they don’t have to deal with you. Voicemail is disabled, and they refuse to answer the phone or provide any way for you to contact them. It’s a criminal violation of the US Constitution.

  3. It’s difficult not to explode on this one…..if you can’t take guns away illegally, you can just not issue them….these less than human scum that run this world had best stay hidden and I’m sure I speak for every thinking human being.

  4. I have had enough of the People’s Republic of Illinois! Same as above, I am a law abiding US citizen. Never even had a speeding ticket. I even have Global Entry which required a background check as well as finger prints. I’ve always wanted to try shooting at a gun range along with my son. I fell in love with the sport right away. After all the anti-police rioting, I decided it was time to get a FOID card, get a membership at my local range and eventually buy a gun for home protection. I applied Sept 8th and still haven’t heard anything. My friends and family in other states are able to purchase a gun within 24 hrs. This red tape is not stoping crime! In fact, all it’s doing is letting the criminals be the only ones armed since they they have illegal weapons! Disturbing in many levels.

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