5 Facts About Chicago Gun Shows

Lots of politicians and other public personalities claim that gun shows are a loophole in the legal process of buying, selling or trading firearms. They claim that gun shows are a way for people to bypass the law and purchase a gun without being subjected to background checks or licensing requirements.  

Below are the facts about gun shows in Illinois.  

1. Gun Shows Are Defined By Statute

Illinois statute defines a gun show as “an event or function: (1) at which the sale and transfer of firearms is the regular and normal course of business and where 50 or more firearms are displayed, offered, or exhibited for sale, transfer or exchange; or (2) at which not less than 10 gun show vendors display, offer, or exhibit for sale, sell, transfer, or exchange firearms” (430 III. Comp. Stat. 65/1.1.).  

Gun shows are usually advertised as such, and while they are normally large public events, they can be small, single dealer functions.  

2. People Who Purchase From Commercial Sellers At Gun Shows Must Pass A Background Check

Current Illinois statute requires that commercial sellers must perform background checks on prospective purchasers of guns at gun shows.   This means that if a gun store or otherwise licensed gun manufacturer or seller has a booth at a gun show, they must perform a background check on anyone who wishes to purchase from them.

This is the same rule that applies to gun stores and other gun related businesses.  Most of them are governed by federal gun laws; and some states, like Illinois, place further restrictions on the purchase, sale, or trade of firearms.  

If that is the rule, why do some people claim there is a loophole?  

3. Individual Sellers In Some States Do Not Have To Perform Background Checks

However, that is not the case in Illinois.  In many states, private gun sellers do not have to perform background checks on prospective gun buyers.  

This means a person who is not a commercial gun seller can rent a booth at a gun show and sell firearms to gun show attendees without performing background checks, asking for a license, keeping a record of the sale, or even asking for identification of the purchaser.  

This loophole is known as the “Brady bill loophole.” The justification for this is that the government should not interfere with the private sale or transfer of goods.

While that is the law in some states, it is not the case in Illinois.  An individual in Illinois who wishes to purchase a firearm must have an FOID card to do so, regardless of whether the purchase is from a commercial or a private seller.  

A private seller who wants to sell guns at a gun show must verify that the purchaser’s FOID card is legitimate with the Department of State Police prior to the sale.  Once the FOID card is validated, the buyer and seller only have 30 days to complete the transaction.  

4. Out Of State Buyers Have Limited Purchasing Power 

Gun shows are open to the public, meaning attendees can be residents of states other than Illinois.  

Gun show attendees who do not live in Illinois are limited with regard to what they can purchase.  Non-residents can purchase ammunition, rifles, or shotguns if they are residents of Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, or Wisconsin, or if they are a resident of another state and have a valid non-resident hunting license.  

Non-residents cannot purchase handguns at gun shows.  

5. There Are Penalties For Violation Of These Provisions

In Illinois, anyone who knowingly sells or transfers a firearm to an individual who is ineligible to possess a firearm (e.g., a felon) or does not have a valid FOID card is guilty of a Class 3 felony.

Any seller who is already monitored by the federal government, such as a licensed gun retailer, can lose their license to sell firearms if they do not follow the required procedures, which include verifying the purchaser’s FOID card and keeping a record of all purchases, sales and trades for 10 years after the transaction.  

There are also some benefits to following these laws. For example, if a private seller gains permission to sell a gun by clearing the transaction with the Department of State Police prior to the sale, then the seller cannot be held liable for any crimes that may be committed in the future with the gun that they sold.  

If the person does not get the permission of the Department of State Police, however, they may face civil liability for illegal activity or harm caused by the firearm.  

Contact Us Today

The team here at Abdallah Law is knowledgeable about the laws surrounding gun shows in Chicago and greater Illinois.  Contact our team at 312-854-2677 for a free consultation today.