It was brought to my attention that hunters in Illinois MAY use gun banned by the Protect Illinois Communities Act on public lands. There is a narrow carve-out for hunters and sportsmen to legally use these guns while engaged in hunting.
Illinois hunting isn’t affected by the state’s assault weapon restrictions. Here’s what the law says
ILLINOIS, USA — Hunters across Illinois will soon enjoy their first-ever rifle deer hunting season.
Starting Friday and running through Sunday, hunters will be able to use single-shot centerfire rifles. Firearm hunting seasons were previously restricted to muzzleloaders, shotguns and handguns, and Illinois officials anticipate the new season will open the practice up to many more hunters.
Recent statewide firearm restrictions, however, have brought into question exactly which guns hunters can use. Gov. JB Pritzker signed the Protect Illinois Communities Act (PICA) earlier this year, and after a federal appeals court recently upheld the law, it mandates restrictions on how assault weapons and other firearms can be sold and possessed in the state.
The new restrictions have some hunters asking not only if they’ll be able to use single-shot centerfire rifles this year, but also if they’ll still be able to use the shotguns and handguns they’ve used in previous seasons.
Our VERIFY team dug into the new restrictions to find the answer.
No, Illinois hunters aren’t banned from using assault weapons as long as they are approved under the state’s Wildlife Code.
What we found
Under PICA, hunters are permitted to use firearms classified by the law as “assault weapons” while hunting, as long as the guns are authorized under the Illinois Wildlife Code and have the appropriate licenses and permits usually required for hunting.
And after January 1, are “registered” with the Illinois State Police.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources also specifies what firearms and ammunition are allowed in Illinois during deer and turkey hunting.
Any Illinois resident who owns a firearm considered an “assault weapon” under the restrictions must register it with the state by submitting an endorsement affidavit through their Firearm Owner’s Identification Card account by Jan. 1, 2024.
However, PICA has an exemption for the hunting season. Hunters cannot be compelled to show proof of an endorsement affidavit while they are actively hunting or when they are traveling to and from hunting. The law says:“[The endorsement affidavit] section does not apply to or affect any of the following: … Possession of a weapon only for hunting use expressly permitted under the Wildlife Code, or while traveling to or from a location authorized for this hunting use under the Wildlife Code if the weapon is broken down in a nonfunctioning state, is not immediately accessible, or is unloaded and enclosed in a firearm case, carrying box, shipping box, or other similar portable container designed for the safe transportation of firearms.”