Pennsylvania Firearm Laws
Like most states, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania regulates the carry of firearms in various ways, these regulations vary depending on the manner and context. Please see the list below to find information on Pennsylvania Gun Laws.
Who can apply for a Pennsylvania License to Carry Permit
Individuals must be 21 years of age or orlder to apply for a license to carry firearms in Pennsylvania. Applications are submitted to the sheriff of the county in which they reside or if a resident of a city the chief of police of that city along with the required fee.
Individuals who are 21 years of age or older and are NOT Pennsylvania residents may apply for a license by submitting a compled Applicato for a Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms to any Pennsylvania County Cheriff's office along with the required fee. A Pennsylvania license cannot be issued to a resident of another state who does not possess a current license or permit or similar document to carry a firearm issued by their home state if a license is provided for by the laws of that state, as published annually in the Federal Register by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tabacco and Firearms of the Department of the Tresury.
The sheriff has 45 days to cunduct an investigation to determine an indvidual's eligibility to be issued a license. Included in the investigation is a background check conducted on the individual through the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) to determine if the records indicate the individual is prohibited by law. In accordance with 18 PA C.S.
If the PICS check is approved and the subject is of good character, the sheriff may issue a License to Carry Firearms. The issuance of a License to Carry Firearms allows individuals to carry a firearm concealed on or about their person, or in a vehicle throughout this Commonwealth. The license is valid for a period of five (5) years unless sooner revoked.
NOTE: A license to carry firearms is NOT a license to purchase. Individuals who purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer are required to have a background check conducted regardless of whether they have a license to carry firearms or not.
Pennsylvania recently passed a law to expand the “Castle Doctrine.” Under the new law an individual has the right to use a gun or other deadly force in self defense in stuations outside a person's home or business.
The legislation also limits certain civil liability in some cases for people who act within the guidelines of the law.
Occupants of a dwelling or vehicle are presumed to have reasonalbe belief that use of deadly force is necessary in order to protect themselves from serious bodily injury, kidnapping, rape or death from an unlawful intruder.
This does not apply if the person using the force is engaged in criminal behavior, uses his dwelling or vehicle to further criminal actividy, or if the person entering the dwelling or vehicle is: a person who has the right to be in the dwelling or vehicle; a parent, grand-parent, or guardian removing a child from the dwelling or vehicle; or a peace officer acting in the performance of his duties.
When attacked outside of his dwelling or vehicle, an individual who is not engaged in criminal actividy and is not in illegal possession of a firearm does NOT have a duty to retreat if:
Unless stated otherwise in the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, a firearm is any pistol or revolver with a barrel length less thatn 15 inches, any shotgun with a barrel length less thatn 18 inches or any rifle with a barrel length less than 16 inches, or any pistol, revolver, rifle or shotgun with an overall length of less than 26 inches. The barrel length of a firearm shall be determined by measuring from the muzzle of the barrel to the face of the closed action, bolt or cylinder, whichever is applicble. (See 18 PACS, Section 6102)
LOADED - A firearm is loaded if the firing chamber, the nondetachable magazine or, in the case of a revolver, any of the chambers of the cylinder contain ammunition cabable of being fired. In the case of a firearm which utilizes a detachable magazine, the term shall mean a magazine suitable for use in said firearm which magazine contains such ammuniction and has been inserted in the firearm or is in the same container or, where the container has multiple compartments, the same compartment thereof as the firearm. (See 18 PACS, Section 6102)
It is illegal to carry a loaded firearm in any vehicle or a concealed firearm on or about a person, except in the place of avode or fixed place of business, without a valid Pennsylvania License To Carry Firearms. Licenses are issued by the county sheriff to individuals age 21 or older.
CARRYING A FIREARM CONCEALED OR IN A VEHICLE
In Pennsylvania one must possess a valid license to carry a firearm concealed or in a vehicle. This license can be in the form of a Pennsylvania License To Carry Firearms or a similar permit from a state with which we have a form of reciprocity.
Sportsmen, age 18 or older, may obtain a Sportsman's Firearms permit from the county treasure for the prupose of valid hunting or furtaking. Sportsmen must carry a hunting, furtaking or fishing license in conjunction with a valid permit. The firearm may only be carried if the licensed sportsman is engaged in hunting, furtaking or fishing, or is en route to or returning from such places. (See 18 PACS, Section 6106)
TRANSPORTING FIREARMS AND LOADED WEAPONS
No individual, except persons exempt from licensing or possessing a valid Pennsylvania License To Carry Firearms permit, shall carry a loaded pistol, revolver, shotgun or rifle in a vehicle. (See 18 PACS, Section 6106)
CARRYING A FIREARM OPENLY
While a Pennsylvania License To Carry Firearms is required to conceal a firearm, Pennsylvania law does not regulate the open carry of a firearm. For more information, please see our page on Open Carry in Pennsylvania.
CARRYING A FIREARM FOR THE PURPOSE OF EMPLOYMENT
If you need to carry a firearm for the purpose of Employment (such as an armed guard, an armored car driver or the like) in Pennsylvania, you must go through a more complex set of testing and training commonly referred to as ACT 235. This involves firearms training and qualification along with passing a psychological test all performed by certified individuals.
CARRYING FIREARMS IN PHILADELPHIA
No person shall carry a firearm, rifle or shotgun at any time upon the public street or upon public property unless the individual is licensed to carry a firearm or is exempt from licensing. (See 18 PACS, Section 6108)
PENNSYLVANIA LICENSE TO CARRY FIREARMS PERMIT
The license to carry a concealed firearm will be isssued after an investiagation and withing 45 days of application if it appears there is no good cause to deny the license. The individual must meet 13 condidions, including being of good character and posing no likely danger to public safety.
A license to carry a concealed firearm is valid throughout the Commonwealth for a period of five years. A $19 fee will be charged at the time of application. (See 18 PACS, Section 6109)
POSSESSION OF A FIREARM
A person under age 18 years of age shall not posess or transport a firearm anywhere in the Commonwealth. Individuals under age 18 may use a firearm under the supervision of a parent, grandparent, legal guardian or an adult acting with the expressed consent of the minor's custodial parent or legal guardian. Anyone who knowingly or intentionally delivers or provides to a minor a firearm in violation of this provision commits a felony of the third degree. Any firearm in the poccession of a minor in violation of this provision shall be seized by the arresting law enforcement officer and forfeited upon conviction. Stolen firearms will be returned to the lawful owner. (See 18 PACS, Section 6110.1 and 6115)
SALE OR TRANFER OF FIREARMS
No seller shall deliver a firearm to the purchaser or transferee until a criminal history records check has been conducted in accordance with the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act of 1995. If the provision has been satisfied, the seller shall deliver the firearm securely wrapped and unloaded.
A completed record of sale shall be provided to the purchaser or transferee and to the state police. A copy of the record of sale also must be retained by the seller for a period of 20 years.
Non-licensed importers, manufactures and dealers desiriring to sell or tranfer a firearm must do so upon the place of business of a licensed importer, manufacture, dealer or county sheriff's office. Some exceptions apply to immediate family members and private sales of long guns. With limited exceptions, firearms cannot be sold or transferred by dealers or manufactures without a locking device. (See 18 PACS, Section 6111 and 6142)
MUNICIPAL REGULATION OF FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION
No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, tranfser or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of the Commonwealth, No political subdivision may file suit againsts manufactures for the lawful design, manufacture or marketing of firearms or ammunition. (See 18 PACS, Section 6120)
PROOF OF LICENSE
When carring a firearm concealed on or about one's person or in a vehicle, an individual licensed to carry a firearm shall, upon lawful demand of a law enforcement officer, produce the license for inspection. Failure to produce such a license either at time of arrest or at the preliminary hearing shall create a rebuttable presumption of nonlicensure. (See 18 PACS, Section 6122)