Pennsylvania Gun Laws

Pennsylvania Gun Laws

Most Pennsylvania residents can legally possess a gun. However, there are some restrictions on the purchase and possession. Violating these restrictions can result in criminal convictions and significant jail time. 

Ignorance of the law is no excuse. That’s why it is important to fully understand Pennsylvania gun laws before buying or possessing a firearm. If you have any lingering questions, you should not hesitate to ask a weapons offense lawyer to explain your rights and responsibilities as a gun owner. 

Who Can Possess a Firearm in Pennsylvania? 

In general, anyone over the age of 18 can possess a gun in PA. A minor can also possess a firearm under the supervision of a parent or guardian or an adult acting as such. This allows minors to hunt, go to the shooting range, or participate in competitions with adult supervision. 

However, anyone who provides a minor with a gun in violation of this law is guilty of a third-degree felony.

Prohibitions Based on Criminal Record

Pennsylvania has laws prohibiting certain people from having a gun based on their past criminal record

The list is long and includes people who have been convicted of fairly common crimes like: 

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Possessing a weapon on school property
  • Aggravated assault
  • Stalking
  • Kidnapping
  • Rape
  • Arson
  • Burglary
  • Felony trespass
  • Felony theft 
  • Misdemeanor domestic violence 

You should remember that this list is not exhaustive. If you have been convicted of any crime, you should speak with a lawyer before buying or possessing a gun to ensure you are allowed to do so.

Other Prohibitions

Pennsylvania also prohibits certain other individuals from having a gun. 

You cannot possess a firearm if you are:

  • An undocumented immigrant
  • A fugitive from justice (have an active warrant for your arrest)
  • Adjudicated mentally incompetent or involuntarily committed to a mental institution 
  • Subject to a protective order that prohibits possession of a gun

In some cases, a court may restore a person’s right to possess a firearm after a conviction, so long as ten years have passed. A lawyer can help you petition the court in the appropriate circumstances. You cannot have a gun until you get permission from the court.

Where Can You Carry a Gun in Pennsylvania?

You are generally allowed to openly carry a gun without a license in Pennsylvania, except in Philadelphia

You are not, however, allowed to conceal a gun without a license. Violation of the concealed carry law is a third-degree felony unless you are eligible for a license. If you qualify for a license, it is a first-degree misdemeanor. 

No one can carry a firearm, concealed or otherwise, in court or on elementary and secondary school property. Everyone is also prohibited from hunting near a safety zone, which is defined as 150 yards from a playground, nursery, or daycare center. This law is intended to protect children from gun violence.

Pennsylvania law also prevents someone from carrying a loaded gun in their car, whether or not they have a license.

Types of Prohibited Firearms in PA

Pennsylvania regulates the types of guns that you can possess. It is illegal to possess an “offensive weapon.” 

Offensive weapons include certain kinds of guns like:

  • Machine guns
  • Sawed-off shotguns with a barrel less than 18 inches
  • Firearms specially made or altered for concealment or silent discharge 

There is no ban on assault weapons. 

Prohibited Ammunition

It is also illegal to commit or attempt to commit a crime of violence with armor-piercing ammunition. That is ammunition capable of penetrating bullet-resistant apparel or body armor. You are allowed to buy and possess this ammunition as long as you are not using it during a crime of violence.

Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer If You Are Facing a Weapons Charge in Pennsylvania

Even though Pennsylvania has permissive gun laws, the penalty for violating them can be severe. It’s best to speak with a lawyer and ensure that you are not breaking the law. If you are charged with a gun crime, you should reach out to a criminal defense attorney immediately so that they can defend you.

If you are facing criminal charges and need legal help, contact the West Chester, PA criminal defense lawyers at DiCindio Law, LLC to schedule a free initial consultation.

DiCindio Law, LLC
29 S Walnut St
West Chester, PA 19382
(610) 430-3535

***This blog article is made available by the law firm publisher for educational purposes and to provide general information, not to provide specific legal advice. By reading, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant. The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. Please contact DiCindio Law, LLC for a consultation and to discuss what law is relevant to your case. ***