The Illinois Firearm Concealed Carry Act, passed in 2013, does not allow most non-residents to carry a concealed firearm in Illinois. To carry a concealed firearm in Illinois, a Firearm Concealed Carry License (FCCL) issued by the State of Illinois is required. Many other states have elected to recognize the Illinois FCCL, but Illinois doesn’t recognize any licenses from other states, nor does it offer reciprocity with other states.
To get an FCCL, a non-resident must be from a state deemed to be “substantially similar.” Unless this criterion is met, a non-resident can’t even apply for a license. There are additional requirements for the non-resident applicant that include a $300 fee (double the resident rate), completion of an affidavit and the 16-hour Illinois CCL training, and possession of a license or permit from his or her home state.
At the present time (Feb 2017), only four states meet the requirements to be considered substantially similar: Virginia, Texas, Mississippi, and Arkansas. The previous list in place since 2014 (Hawaii, South Carolina, New Mexico, and Virginia) is no longer valid, with only Virginia remaining.
Residents of neighboring states, such as Missouri, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, and Iowa, are not able to carry a concealed firearm in Illinois since none of those states are considered substantially similar. Furthermore, military members stationed in Illinois on orders (typically 2-4 years duration) can’t get a license, either, unless they either identify one of the substantially similar states as “home” or decide to become residents of Illinois.
There are a couple of exceptions to the prohibition on nonresidents carrying without a license: specifically, they may carry a loaded and concealed firearm in a vehicle if they possess licenses to carry from their home states; and with permission, they may carry on private property.
Statute and Administrative Code
The FCCA uses this language in 430 ILCS 66/40:
(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.
Note the use of the word “applications” (clarifying this section is addressing who can apply for a license–it has nothing to do with reciprocity or recognition), and “substantially similar” (identifying states whose residents qualify to apply).
The Illinois State Police, through the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules, in Illinois Title 20, Section 1231.10, further defines “substantially similar” as such:
“the comparable state regulates who may carry firearms, concealed or otherwise, in public; prohibits all who have involuntary mental health admissions, and those with voluntary admissions within the past 5 years, from carrying firearms, concealed or otherwise, in public; reports denied persons to NICS; and participates in reporting persons authorized to carry firearms, concealed or otherwise, in public through NLETS.”
NICS is the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (which facilitates background checks for firearm sales) administered by the FBI. NLETS is the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, a voluntary information-sharing network in which many states participate.
Substantally Similar Surveys and Results
The ISP evaluates a state by collecting a written survey from each one, and depends exclusively upon a state’s responses to that survey to determine eligibility of its residents.
A consolidated interpretation of their findings (from the 2013-2014 surveys) is in this spreadsheet. A majority of states lacked one primary criteria: they did not prohibit individuals with voluntary mental health admissions from carrying firearms. As the spreadsheet shows, as of 2014 only four states met the criteria: Virginia, New Mexico, Hawaii, and South Carolina.
In Aug 2016, through a Freedom of Information Act request, I obtained the latest set of survey results for each state. The ISP collected these surveys in the 4th quarter of 2015. Responses are attached here (warning: file size is 96 MB, so be patient!).
In this latest round of surveys, of the four states on the 2014 substantially similar list, two (South Carolina and New Mexico) do not claim to prohibit use or possession of firearms by individuals who have been voluntarily admitted for mental health treatment. A third state, Virginia, claims to prohibit use or possession by those admitted voluntarily, but relies on the individual to self-report. Neither South Carolina nor Hawaii report to NLETS.
You’ll note a striking similarity between NM, SC (approved) and many others (not approved) as you scroll through the survey responses. Also note that Texas and Mississippi answered “yes” to all questions, theoretically qualifying both states as substantially similar.
New (2 Sep 2016): I’ve consolidated all available survey responses and the ISP’s determination of “substantial similarity” into this spreadsheet. Please review sheets 2 and 3, since they explain the table on sheet 1. There may be errors–if you catch any please let me know.
Update (9 Feb 2017): The ISP revised its list of substantially similar states, presumably based on the 2015 surveys, effective 2 Feb 2017. The new list is now Virginia (the only one left from before), Texas, Mississippi, and Arkansas. The ISP sent no surveys during 2016, so we don’t expect any near-term changes to this list without legislative or court action.
- Several bills have been introduced into the General Assembly since Jan 2014 in an effort to redefine “substantially similar” or to expand the definition of “resident” to include military members and/or spouses who are stationed in Illinois. The best progress to date has been seen with Senate Bill (SB) 553, which passed the Senate in May 2016 (53 to 1). Unfortunately, the House refused to act, so with the start of the new 100th General Assembly in Jan 2017 the slate was wiped clean.
- Senator Weaver (R-Peoria) introduced Senate Bill 1524 in January 2017 to help nonresident military members qualify for a carry license. This one is gaining steam with the committed and able assistance of IllinoisCarry. It passed out of the Judiciary Committee on 14 March 2017, and unanimously through the Senate in May 2017. It now sits in the House and has remained there without action since mid-May.
(Updated 7 Nov 2017) Judicial: Two lawsuits are underway.
- In Culp v. Madigan, plaintiffs are not residents of Illinois but spend a considerable amount of time in the state. They are seeking the right to carry a firearm in the state of Illinois as non-residents. A preliminary injunction was denied in Dec 2015 by the Central District Court of Illinois. It was appealed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and oral arguments were held Sep 22, 2016, in front of a panel of 3 judges (Posner, Bauer, and Manion). The court released its opinion in October 2016 and unfortunately ruled against the plaintiffs. This case was referred back to the Central District Court for summary judgment. The court ruled against the plaintiffs in Sep 2017. It has now been appealed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals once again. (See Appellants’ brief here.)
- In Meyers v. Schmitz, the plaintiff was a resident of Illinois but moved to a state not approved as substantially similar, and lost his CCL as a result of that move. He seeks to reinstate his license. The case is actively being addressed in the Sangamon County Circuit Court.
I will keep this post as current as possible when there is a change in status.