How to Sell a Gun in Illinois

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Navigating the legal landscape of firearm sales in Illinois requires a thorough understanding of state-specific laws and regulations. We are going into the crucial steps and legal requirements for selling firearms, from verifying FOID cards to engaging Federal Firearms Licensees (FFL) for private sales. This article also explores the implications of recent legislative changes, including assault weapon and magazine capacity restrictions, ensuring you have the most current and accurate information for legally compliant and safe firearm transactions in Illinois.

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How to Sell a Gun in Illinois
Written by: 
Frank Holder
Published On:
November 19, 2023
Updated On:
May 31, 2023
minutes read

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State Laws for Private Sales

In Illinois, private sales of firearms are subject to a comprehensive set of state laws designed to ensure safety and legal compliance. Key components include the mandatory Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card, required for both buyers and sellers to legally possess and transfer firearms and ammunition. Additionally, private sales must be facilitated through a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) dealer, ensuring adherence to background checks and proper record-keeping. The state also enforces specific restrictions on assault weapons and magazine capacities, as outlined in the Protect Illinois Communities Act.

Illinois State FOID card

Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) Card

The Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card in Illinois, issued by the Illinois State Police on a shall-issue basis, is a critical component of the state's firearm regulatory framework. This card, mandatory for Illinois residents to legally possess firearms and ammunition, requires applicants to submit personal information, a photograph, and undergo a rigorous background check that includes scrutiny of criminal records, mental health history, and any restraining orders. Valid for ten years, the FOID card's renewal also necessitates a subsequent background check. While this system primarily targets residents, non-residents legally possessing firearms in their home states are exempt, although they must adhere to Illinois gun laws when within the state. Both buyers and sellers in firearm transactions must hold a valid FOID card, ensuring that all parties are legally authorized to handle firearms and ammunition. Non-compliance with these regulations can lead to severe legal consequences.

Private Sales through a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL)

Private sales of firearms are mandated to be conducted through a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) dealer, a regulation aimed at enhancing safety and accountability in firearm transactions. This process involves the FFL dealer overseeing the transfer, ensuring that both the buyer and seller comply with all legal requirements, including background checks and record-keeping. This system is designed to prevent the sale of firearms to individuals who are legally prohibited from possessing them. Additionally, both sellers and buyers are required to report any lost or stolen firearms to the police promptly. This reporting is critical for public safety and helps in tracking firearms that may be used in criminal activities.

Assault Weapons and Magazine Restrictions

On January 10, 2023, Illinois implemented the Protect Illinois Communities Act, significantly altering the landscape of firearm regulations in the state. This Act introduced a comprehensive ban on the sale and distribution of assault weapons and certain firearm modifications. It specifically targets "switches" and other modifications that enable guns like standard Glocks to operate as semi-automatic weapons. The Act also imposes strict limits on magazine capacities, capping rifle magazines at a maximum of 10 rounds and handgun magazines at 15 rounds. These measures reflect Illinois' commitment to enhancing public safety by restricting access to high-capacity firearms and certain firearm modifications that can increase the lethality of weapons.


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Overview of Key Illinois State Firearm Laws

In Illinois, firearm regulations encompass a range of laws designed to ensure public safety while respecting the rights of gun owners. These laws cover various aspects from ownership requirements to specific restrictions on the types of firearms and ammunition that can be legally possessed or transferred. Understanding these regulations is crucial for residents and non-residents alike who wish to purchase, own, or carry firearms in Illinois.

Age Requirements for Purchasing Firearms

In Illinois, the age requirement for purchasing firearms is 21 years old. This applies to the legal purchase and ownership of firearms in the state. Additionally, Illinois law mandates a 72-hour waiting period after the sale of a firearm before the buyer, who must meet the age requirement, can take possession of the firearm.

No Permit or Registration Required for Ownership

Ownership of firearms does not require a permit or registration; however, firearm owners must possess a FOID card.

Private Transactions and Transfers

Private sales of firearms must be conducted through a Federal Firearms License (FFL) dealer.

Background Checks for Handgun Purchases from Licensed Dealers

All firearm sales, including private transactions, require background checks.

Background Check Exemptions

There are no specific exemptions mentioned for background checks, indicating that all purchases, including private sales, must go through this process.

Restrictions on Selling or Transferring Handguns

The sale or purchase of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines is prohibited. Assault weapons include certain semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, and pistols with specific features​.

Prohibited Possessors

The red flag law allows for the confiscation of firearms from individuals deemed a danger to themselves or others. This includes those identified by family members, police, or state's attorneys as posing a risk.

Penalties for Unlawful Sales and Transfers

In August 2023, Illinois passed a law against gun advertising targeting minors or encouraging illegal paramilitary activities. The law also allows lawsuits against businesses failing to prevent illegal sales​​. Additionally, when a firearm is sold by a licensed dealer, a gun lock must be provided unless the firearm has an integrated locking mechanism buyers and sellers if the firearm was sold to an ineligible person, selling a defaced firearm, or selling a restricted firearm (explosive weapon, machine gun), which can result in different criminal charges including up to a felony criminal charge.

Carrying Firearms with Intent to Go Armed

Illinois issues concealed carry licenses for handguns to qualified applicants who are 21 or older and have completed a 16-hour training course. Open carry is generally prohibited in most areas. When transporting firearms without a concealed carry license, the firearm must be unloaded and either enclosed in a case, broken down in a non-functioning state, or not immediately accessible​

Handgun Permit Process and Fees

To apply for a concealed carry license, applicants must provide a certificate from the required training, a valid driver's license or state ID card, a valid FOID card, a recent head and shoulder photograph, ten years of documented residency, and optionally fingerprints (though not providing fingerprints may extend the processing time). The permit costs $150 for residents and $300 for non-residents, with a validity of five years. Non-residents can apply if their state’s laws related to firearm ownership, possession, and carrying are substantially similar to Illinois' requirements​

Steps for Selling a Firearm in Illinois

When selling a firearm in Illinois, it's imperative to adhere to specific legal steps to ensure compliance with state laws.

Verify Buyer’s Eligibility

The seller is required to confirm that the buyer possesses a valid Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card or an Illinois Concealed Carry License (CCL). This verification can be done by physically inspecting the FOID or CCL. In cases where the FOID is electronic, the seller can check its validity through the Illinois State Police Firearms Services Bureau (ISPFSB) website. This step is crucial in ensuring that the firearm is being sold to a legally authorized individual, thereby maintaining adherence to state firearm regulations and promoting responsible gun ownership.

Facilitate the Transfer

In Illinois, once the buyer's eligibility is verified, the next step in selling a firearm involves facilitating the transfer. The seller must complete the Firearm Transfer Form available on the Illinois State Police Firearms Services Bureau (ISPFSB) website. This form is crucial for documenting the transaction and ensuring it is legally recorded.

Record Keeping

In Illinois, maintaining accurate records of firearm sales is a critical responsibility for sellers. After completing a firearm sale, the seller is obligated to keep a record of the transaction for at least ten years. This record must comprehensively include details such as the make, model, and serial number of the firearm, as well as the buyer's full name and address, and the dates associated with the sale. These detailed records are essential for traceability and accountability, ensuring that there is a clear history of the firearm's ownership. This practice is a key component of responsible gun ownership and helps in upholding public safety by enabling easier tracking of firearms if needed.

Buyer's Responsibilities

In the process of acquiring a firearm in Illinois, the buyer also bears significant responsibilities. Within 10 days of receiving the firearm, the buyer is required to contact a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) and provide them with a record of the purchase.

Mandatory Waiting Period:

In Illinois, a mandatory waiting period is enforced for the sale of firearms, encompassing both long guns and handguns. This waiting period, lasting 72 hours from the time of the sale agreement, is a critical safety measure. It serves as a cooling-off period, intended to prevent impulsive actions and to provide additional time for any necessary background checks to be completed. The waiting period applies regardless of the type of firearm being purchased and is an essential component of Illinois' efforts to ensure responsible firearm transactions, aiming to enhance public safety and reduce the potential for firearm-related incidents.

Background Checks at Gun Shows:

The process of purchasing firearms at gun shows is subject to stringent regulations, mirroring those in traditional gun store settings. At these shows, the Illinois State Police are tasked with conducting background checks on all potential firearm buyers. This procedure ensures that individuals purchasing firearms at gun shows are subject to the same level of scrutiny as those buying from licensed gun stores.


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Additional Legal Considerations in Illinois Firearm Sales

In Illinois, the sale and transfer of firearms are governed by several additional legal considerations, each designed to enhance safety and compliance with state and federal laws.

Prohibitions and Restrictions

There are stringent restrictions on selling firearms to certain individuals. These restrictions include not selling to those under 18 years old, individuals convicted of crimes (excluding traffic offenses), drug addicts, and persons who have been patients in mental institutions. These measures are in place to prevent firearms from being accessed by individuals who may pose a risk to public safety.


Despite these restrictions, there are specific exemptions. These include the gifting of firearms to immediate family members, transfers to law enforcement officers acting within the line of duty, the donation of inoperable firearms to museums, and transfers to certain federal officials and military members. These exemptions recognize legitimate reasons for transferring firearms outside of commercial sales or standard ownership scenarios.

Interstate Transfers

When a firearm is sold across state lines, it's important to adhere to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) regulations. Such transactions must involve a federally licensed firearm dealer in the buyer's state of residence. This requirement ensures that interstate sales meet both state-specific and federal legal standards, promoting uniformity and legality in the process of firearm transactions across state borders.

Selling a firearm in Illinois involves careful compliance with state laws and regulations. Sellers must verify buyers' eligibility, use an FFL for transactions, adhere to record-keeping and waiting period requirements, and understand the legal prohibitions and exemptions. Staying informed about current laws and maintaining accurate records are crucial for a legal and responsible firearm transaction in Illinois.


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Federal Laws

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Federal laws encompass various aspects related to the acquisition and possession of firearms in the United States. 

  • Key elements include federal disqualification categories
  • Individuals must complete a Firearms Transaction Form (ATF form 4473) when purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer. 
  • The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is used to perform background checks on potential firearm buyers to ensure they meet eligibility requirements.

Federal Disqualification Categories

Federal disqualification categories include conviction (felony or misdemeanor) where the crime has a maximum imprisonment term exceeding 1 year, warrant (felony or out-of-state misdemeanor), felony pre-trial release, misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence restraining/stalking/protection order mental health adjudication or commitment, unlawful use or addicted to a controlled substance (including marijuana), dishonorable discharge from the armed forces, renounced U.S. citizenship, and illegal alien.

Firearms Transaction Form (ATF form 4473)

Anyone purchasing a firearm from a licensed firearms dealer must complete a firearms transaction form (ATF form 4473).

ATF's website form 4473 - Firearms Transaction Record Revisions

National Instant Criminal Background Check System

To purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer, the buyer must undergo a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) check.

FBI's website  National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)


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Top Strategies for Selling Your Firearm and Maximizing Value

Successfully selling your firearm involves ensuring it's in excellent working condition, clean, and well-maintained. Provide a detailed and accurate description of the gun, including its make, model, caliber, and included accessories. Create a comprehensive bill of sale and gather any relevant documentation, such as receipts and warranty information. Lastly, follow all federal, state, and local laws and regulations to complete the sale and legally transfer ownership.

Proper Cleaning and Maintenance

Before selling your firearm, make sure it's in optimal working condition and thoroughly cleaned. A well-maintained gun can fetch a higher price during the sale.

Picture of a person cleaning a firearm

Detailed and Accurate Description

When preparing your firearm for a private sale, it's crucial to provide a detailed and accurate description, including information about the make, model, caliber, and accompanying accessories. This ensures a smooth transaction with the buyer.

Assemble Necessary Documentation

Create a comprehensive bill of sale that protects both parties in case of disputes, including details like sale date, buyer and seller information, and firearm specifics (such as make, model, and serial number). Include any relevant paperwork, like purchase receipts and warranty information.

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Legally Completing the Sale and Transferring Ownership

After finding a legal buyer, complete the sale and transfer firearm ownership while complying with all federal, state, and local laws and regulations. This includes conducting background checks and obtaining any required permits or licenses.


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A Guide to Securely Sell Your Firearm and Maximize Its Value

For a secure firearm sale that yields the best possible price, consider the following steps. 

First, ensure your firearm is in excellent working order, clean, and properly maintained. Provide an accurate description of the gun, specifying its make, model, caliber, and any included accessories. 

Additionally, prepare a detailed bill of sale with all pertinent documents, such as receipts and warranty information. 

Finally, adhere to all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations when transferring firearm ownership.

For a trustworthy and safe platform to sell your firearm, consider Cash for Arms. We guarantee prompt payment, top market value, and coverage of all transaction expenses, making the process both convenient and cost-effective. We adhere to all required protocols to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations, providing a secure and safe transaction. 

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Illinois is unique in its requirement for a Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card, not just for purchasing firearms but also for ammunition, making it one of the few states with such comprehensive identification measures for both firearms and ammunition possession and purchase.

General Questions & Answers



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We value your interest in our services. Due to regulatory requirements, we can only accept contact information from individuals 21 years of age or older. However, individuals aged 18 and above are eligible to sell firearms through our platform. If you are between 18 to 21 years old, please exit this pop-up and refrain from providing your phone number. Those under 18 should leave the website. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation in adhering to these guidelines.

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