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GUN LAWS  

Pennsylvania Gun Laws

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

STATE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION - Article 1, Section 21.

“The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.”

Gun Laws Overview

RIFLES & SHOTGUNS HANDGUNS
Permit to Purchase No No
Registration of Firearms No No
Licensing of Owners No No
Permit to Carry No Yes

The list and map below are included as a tool to assist you in validating your information.  We have made every effort to report the information correctly, however reciprocity and recognition agreements are subject to frequent change.  The information is not intended as legal advice or a restatement of law and does not include:  restrictions that may be placed on non-resident permits, individuals under the age of 21, qualifying permit classes, and/or any other factor which may limit reciprocity and/or recognition.  For any particular situation, a licensed local attorney must be consulted for an accurate interpretation.  YOU MUST ABIDE WITH ALL LAWS: STATE, FEDERAL AND LOCAL.

STATE STATUS
Castle Doctrine Enacted
No-Net Loss No Legislation
Right to Carry Confidentiality Provisions Enacted
Right to Carry in Restaurants Legal
Right To Carry Laws Shall Issue
Right To Carry Reciprocity and Recognition Conditional Recognition
Right to Keep & Bear Arms State Constitutional Provisions With Provisions
Concealed Carry Reciprocity
Select Map
Click on a State to see the Gun Law Profile

 

Laws on Purchase, Possession and Carrying of Firearms

Definition of Firearm

The Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act defines “firearm” as “any pistol or revolver with a barrel less than 15 inches, any shotgun with a barrel less than 18 inches, any rifle with a barrel of less than 16 inches or any pistol, revolver, rifle or shotgun with an overall length of less than 26 inches.”  However, several sections of the law include a broader definition that includes all firearms, i.e. handguns, rifles and shotguns, and pertains to that section only.  The distinction should be closely noted when interpreting the statutes.

Purchase

Any individual or dealer selling a handgun is required to sell or transfer it at the place of business of a licensed dealer or county sheriff’s office.  Transfers of all firearms (handguns, rifles and shotguns) by a licensed dealer are subject to an instant records check of the purchaser. The purchaser must sign a transfer application/record of sale for the purchase of a handgun.  No transfer application/record is necessary to transfer a rifle or shotgun.  There is a $2 fee for the instant check and a $3 firearm sale surcharge to cover telephone costs. Transfers of handguns between spouses, parent and child, grandparent and grandchild or between active law enforcement officers are exempt from the above requirements. Rifles and shotguns may be transferred between unlicensed individuals.  Antique firearms are exempt from the requirements regarding transfer of firearms through dealers.

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It is unlawful for any licensee to sell, deliver or transfer any handgun, other than an antique firearm, to any person unless the transferee is provided or purchases a locking device for that firearm, or the design of the firearm incorporates a locking device.  Exempt from this requirement are transfers between licensed dealers and any law enforcement officer.  A locking device is a device that when installed on a firearm prevents the firearm from being operated without deactivating the device or a device that is incorporated into the design of a firearm and that is designed to prevent the operation of the firearm by anyone not having access to the device.

It is unlawful to lend, give, or otherwise transfer a handgun unless exempted by law or by following the procedure previously described.  Exempted is a person who receives the handgun and has a license to carry; or who is engaged in a Pennsylvania Game Commission or NRA hunter safety, firearm training, or competition program; or who is engaged in hunting or trapping.  Also exempted is the loaning or giving of a handgun to another person who will remain within the transferor’s dwelling or place of business; a transfer to carry out a bequest or intestate succession; and a person under 18 who is under the direct supervision of a responsible person at least 21.

No person may knowingly or intentionally transfer any firearm to any person who is prohibited from possession.  No Pennsylvania resident who may lawfully purchase, possess, sell, or transfer a firearm shall be prohibited from purchasing or otherwise obtaining a rifle or shotgun in a jurisdiction outside the Commonwealth.  Persons convicted of drunk driving three times within a five-year period may possess but may not purchase a firearm. A person with certain disabling convictions that keep him or her from purchasing and possessing firearms may apply to the Court of Common Pleas for restoration of his or her firearms rights.  Such restoration does not constitute a pardon or guarantee an expungement of a criminal record. Free brochures summarizing state law relating to the buying, selling, and transferring of firearms shall be provided by the State Police to every licensed firearms dealer and each individual who purchases a firearm from a licensed dealer.

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Possession

No license is required to possess rifles and shotguns, or to possess handguns in one’s home or place of business. It is unlawful for the following to possess a firearm: 

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  • persons convicted of a crime of violence;
  • fugitives, or person convicted of a controlled substance offense punishable by more than 2 years,
  • persons adjudicated mentally incompetent or involuntarily committed to a mental institution, illegal aliens, persons adjudicated as a delinquent for an offense that would disqualify one from possessing a firearm if committed by an adult, or 
    persons subject to a protection from abuse (PFA) court order that prohibits possession of a firearm.  It is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by 5 years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine if a person subject to a PFA does not relinquish all firearms.  Additionally, a person subject to a PFA may not receive firearms and any person who knowingly transfers to an individual under a PFA may face the same penalties as stated above. 
  • a person under 18 to possess a handgun.  This does not apply to a minor who is under the supervision of a parent, grandparent, legal guardian or adult acting with the consent of the minor’s custodial parent or legal guardian, when the minor is engaged in lawful activity including training, target shooting or competition, or the firearm is unloaded and the minor is transporting it for lawful purpose or a person under the age of 18 who is lawfully hunting or trapping in accordance with the Pennsylvania Game Code.
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Carry

It is unlawful to possess any firearm: 

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  • on school property but it shall be a defense that the weapon is possessed and used in conjunction with a lawful supervised school activity or course or is possessed for other lawful purpose;
  • in a court facility.  At or within the building containing a court facility, lockers or similar facilities shall be available by July 1, 2002, at no charge, for the temporary checking of firearms by persons lawfully carrying same.  A receipt must be issued to the individual checking a firearm.
  • upon the public streets or upon any public property during an emergency proclaimed by a governmental executive unless the person carrying is actively engaged in lawful self defense, is licensed to carry firearms, or is exempt from licensing requirements.
  • upon the public streets or upon any public property in Philadelphia unless the person carrying is licensed to carry firearms or is exempt from licensing requirements.

    Any person carrying a handgun in any vehicle or concealed on or about his person’ is required to have a license to carry or a Sportsman’s Firearm Permit (good only for hunting, fishing, trapping and dog training). 
    However, no license is required: 
    (1) to carry a handgun in one’s home or fixed place of business; 
    (2) when engaged in target shooting or while going to or from shooters’ places of assembly or target practice, provided the firearm is unloaded and the ammunition is carried in a separate container; 
    (3) for law enforcement personnel, including policemen, jail wardens, and sheriffs and their deputies;
    (4) to carry an unloaded and securely wrapped firearm from place of purchase to one’s home or place of business, to or from a place of repair, or in moving from one place of abode or business to another, or from one’s home to a vacation or recreational home or dwelling or back, to recover stolen property, or to a location to which the person has been directed to surrender firearms or back upon return of the surrendered firearm; 
    (5) to carry while lawfully hunting or fishing or going to the place of hunting or fishing, provided one has a hunting or fishing license and a Sportsman’s Firearm Permit; 
    (6) while carrying a firearm in any vehicle when the person possesses a valid and lawfully issued license for that firearm which has been issued under the laws of the U.S. or any other state; 
    (7) by a person who has a lawfully issued license to carry a firearm and said license expired within six months prior to the date of arrest and that individual is otherwise eligible for renewal of that license; 
    (8) by any person who is otherwise eligible to possess a firearm and who is operating a motor vehicle which is registered in the person’s name or the name of a spouse or parent and which contains a firearm for which a valid license has been issued to the spouse or parent owning the firearm.
    A Sportsman’s Firearm Permit is valid only for sporting purposes. It is obtained by applying to the county treasurer. The applicant must present his hunting or fishing license and pay a fee of $6.00. The permit is valid for five years.  It must be carried with a valid hunting or fishing license.
    Application for a license to carry may be made to the chief of police in a city of the first class (Philadelphia) or sheriff in the county where the applicant resides. Non-residents may apply to any county sheriff but must first possess any applicable license required by their state of residence.  All information provided by the potential purchaser, transferee or applicant, including but not limited to, the potential purchaser, transferee or applicant’s name or identity, is confidential and not subject to public disclosure. The license is valid for five years from the date of issuance unless sooner revoked for good cause. The fee is $20.00 depending on county.
    The issuing officer shall, within 45 days, issue the license unless good cause exists to deny. The state code lists several factors which preclude issuance of a license, including, but not limited to: 
    (1) being of a character and reputation that the applicant is likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety; 
    (2) currently charged with or convicted of certain crimes;
    (3) being a habitual drunkard or abuser of controlled substances; 
    (4) being of unsound mind or having been involuntarily committed to a mental institution; or 
    (5) having been dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces.
    When carrying a handgun, the licensee shall, upon demand of a law enforcement officer, produce the license for inspection.  A license to carry or a Sportsman’s Firearm Permit does not authorize carrying a loaded shotgun or rifle in any vehicle. A Sportsman’s Firearm Permit does not authorize carrying a loaded handgun in a vehicle. A weapon is “loaded” if there is ammunition capable of being fired in the firing chamber, any cylinder of a revolver, in a nondetachable magazine, or in a detachable magazine that is attached or in the same container or compartment as the firearm.

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Transportation in a Vehicle

A handgun being transported in a vehicle without a license to carry must be unloaded and must be carried under one of the exceptions listed above under ‘Carry.’ Rifles and shotguns may be transported in a vehicle as long as they are unloaded.

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While transporting a firearm without a license, it is up to the person carrying the firearm to demonstrate that one of the exceptions applies.  A law enforcement officer may demand such evidence.

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Antiques

“Antique firearm” means:

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  1. Any firearm manufactured in or before 1898.  Any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, or percussion cap type of ignition system; and
  2. Any replica of any firearm manufactured in or before 1898 if such replica:
    • is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition; or
    • uses rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition which is no longer manufactured in the United States and which is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade.

Generally, antique firearms are exempt from Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act.  However, antique firearms are not exempt from the provisions relating to carrying without a license or possession by prohibited persons.

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Machine Guns

Most items that are required to be registered under the National Firearms Act such as machine guns, suppressors, short barreled rifles and shotguns, are prohibited in Pennsylvania as “offensive weapons” unless they are registered under the NFA.

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It is an affirmative defense for those found in possession of NFA weapons if proven by a preponderance of the evidence that there were possessed:

  • solely as a curio
  • in a dramatic performance
  • as a consequence of having found it
  • as a consequence of having taken it from an aggressor
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Preemption

18 PA. STAT. ANN. §6120 (2011)
No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth

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18 PA. STAT. ANN. §6120 (2011)

§ 6120. Limitation on the regulation of firearms and ammunition

 

(a) General rule.--No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth.

(a.1) No right of action.--

(1) No political subdivision may bring or maintain an action at law or in equity against any firearms or ammunition manufacturer, trade association or dealer for damages, abatement, injunctive relief or any other relief or remedy resulting from or relating to either the lawful design or manufacture of firearms or ammunition or the lawful marketing or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public.

 

(2) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prohibit a political subdivision from bringing or maintaining an action against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer or dealer for breach of contract or warranty as to firearms or ammunition purchased by the political subdivision.

 

(b) Definitions.--As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:

 

"Dealer." The term shall include any person engaged in the business of selling at wholesale or retail a firearm or ammunition.

"Firearms." This term shall have the meaning given to it in section 5515(relating to prohibiting of paramilitary training) but shall not include air rifles as that term is defined in section 6304 ( relating to sale and use of air rifles).

"Political subdivision." The term shall include any home rule charter municipality, county, city, borough, incorporated town, township or school district.
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Range Protections

35 PA. STAT. ANN. § 4501 (2011)
All owners of rifle, pistol, silhouette, skeet, trap, blackpowder or other ranges in this Commonwealth shall be exempt and immune from any civil action or criminal prosecution

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35 PA. STAT. ANN. § 4501 (2011)

§ 4501. General immunity for noise

All owners of rifle, pistol, silhouette, skeet, trap, blackpowder or other ranges in this Commonwealth shall be exempt and immune from any civil action or criminal prosecution in any matter relating to noise or noise pollution resulting from the normal and accepted shooting activity on ranges, provided that the owners of the ranges are in compliance with any applicable noise control laws or ordinances extant at the time construction of the range was initiated. If there were no noise control laws or ordinances extant at the time construction of the range was initiated, then the immunity granted by this act shall apply to said ranges.

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Miscellaneous Provisions

The state legislature has preempted the field of firearm regulation. No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of the Commonwealth.

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No political subdivision may bring or maintain an action at law or in equity against any firearm or ammunition manufacturer, trade association or dealer for damages, abatement, injunctive relief or any other relief or remedy resulting from or relating to either the lawful design or manufacture of firearms or ammunition or the lawful marketing or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public.  This does not prevent a political subdivision from bringing an action for breach of contract or warranty for firearms or ammunition purchased by the political subdivision.

It is a felony to alter, change, remove or obliterate the manufacturer’s number integral to the frame or receiver of a firearm, or to possess a firearm that has been so altered. This does not apply to antique firearms.

Nothing in the law allows a government agency or an agent thereof to create, maintain, or operate any registry of firearms ownership within the Commonwealth.

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Pennsylvania NEWS
81-year-old shoots home invasion suspect, says gun had never been used in 30 years

PA | WPXI  

Monday, December 5, 2016

81-year-old shoots home invasion suspect, says gun had never been used in 30 years

A home invasion suspect was fatally shot early Friday morning in Uniontown when the 81-year-old homeowner pulled out ...

Man shoots 2 armed men who tried to rob him at ATM

PA | WPIX  

Monday, November 28, 2016

Man shoots 2 armed men who tried to rob him at ATM

A man shot two would-be robbers early Thursday an ATM in Homewood. The 42-year-old man told police he was ...

Associated Press  

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Pennsylvania hunters will be allowed to use semi-automatic firearms

Gov. Tom Wolf has signed a bill into law that expands the list of firearms permitted for hunting ...

A Huge Victory in the Keystone State; Governor Signs Critical Semi-Automatic Rifle Hunting Legislation!

Hunting  

Monday, November 21, 2016

A Huge Victory in the Keystone State; Governor Signs Critical Semi-Automatic Rifle Hunting Legislation!

Today, Governor Tom Wolf signed House Bill 263 into law, making Pennsylvania the 49th state to allow semi-automatic rifle hunting. 

Daily American  

Monday, November 21, 2016

Pennsylvania: Somerset man files NRA-backed suit against the commonwealth

A Somerset man is suing the commonwealth on grounds that Pennsylvania's Firearms Disqualification Statute is unconstitutional.

LevitownNow.com  

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Customer Shoots Two Robbers In Pizza Shop

A customer inside Porfirio’s II Pizza in the Skyline Shopping Center in Levittown shot two alleged robbers Tuesday night. ...

Officials say Pennsylvania pizza shop customer shoots 2 robbers

Fox News  

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Officials say Pennsylvania pizza shop customer shoots 2 robbers

“The two male robbers apparently told the employees and the customer to get on the ground. They began ...

PennLive  

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Gun rush: Election uncertainty sparking interest in Pennsylvanians arming up

Pennsylvanians are attempting to buy or transfer ownership of guns at a 24 percent higher rate than they ...

Man, 82, shoots home intruder

WTAE  

Monday, November 7, 2016

Man, 82, shoots home intruder

An 82-year old man used a gun that’s been on his nightstand for 30 years to shoot a ...

Bloomberg’s 2016 tally: $65 million and counting

Politico.com  

Monday, November 7, 2016

Bloomberg’s 2016 tally: $65 million and counting

Mike Bloomberg is quietly finishing as one of the biggest spenders of the 2016 cycle. The former New ...

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.