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Kevin O'Flaherty

In this article, we will explain the new “red flag” gun law in Illinois, including answering the questions “What is the Firearms Restraining Order Act?”, “What is a Red Flag in Illinois Law?” and “How to Remove Someone’s Firearm in Illinois.” 

What is The Firearms Restraining Order Act?

In Illinois, under The Firearms Restraining Order Act, guns may be removed temporarily from those deemed dangerous. Effective January 1st, 2019, Illinois joins over a dozen states in passing “red flag” laws regarding firearms. This involves a suspension of a person’s right to buy or own firearms as well as having all of the individual’s guns temporarily removed from their possession. 

If a person is declared a danger, police can temporarily remove all firearms from the possession of the individual in the interest of protecting themselves or others. The person whose rights are suspended will then have to wait at least two weeks to petition to have their license to own firearms restored.

What is a Red Flag in Illinois Gun Law?

A “red flag” is any sign pointing to a person’s potential intent or likelihood to commit an act of violence against themselves or others. These can include threats or comments about violence, a history of lashing out aggressively, or social media posts and text messages about violence. These red flags can also include signs of a person’s potential violence against themselves, such as a history of self-harm or deep depression.

Under the Firearms Restraining Order Act, these “red flags” may serve as evidence to petition for an individual to have their firearms removed for at least two weeks. Recognizing and noting these signs of potential violence can be vital in assuring that a petition for a temporary firearms restraining order is granted and knowing that a person is protected from hurting themselves or others. 

How to Remove Someone’s Firearm in Illinois

A petition can be filed by a family member, an interested third party, or by police against an individual they believe to be an immediate and present danger to themselves or others. This petition for the temporary restraining order must be heard by a judge as soon as possible, either the same day it is filed or on the next court day. The hearing and order can occur ex parte, meaning with or without the accused individual present and without notice to the individual. 

Proving the “immediate and present danger” involves presenting the red flags as evidence to prove to a judge beyond doubt that the person is a threat worthy of removing their firearms. This can be a danger to others, such as threatening violence, or a danger to themselves, such as expressing suicidal thoughts. 

If the petition for the restraining order is granted, police can immediately present the order to the individual and remove all of their guns. Their license to carry and purchase firearms will also be suspended immediately. The restraining order will be in effect for at least two weeks. After those two weeks, the individual must petition to appeal for the order to be revoked. If the individual is still seen as a danger, the order will continue, and they must again wait to appeal. If the order is revoked, the individual’s firearms will be returned, and their license to carry and buy will be restored.

See our article on Preliminary Injunctions and Temporary Restraining Orders for related reading.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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