It is not illegal to carry an unregistered firearm in Pennsylvania. In fact, 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 6111.4 forbids government and law enforcement agencies from creating, operating, or maintaining a registry of firearm ownership. However, you must have the proper licensing to carry firearms within the state.
If you face criminal gun charges or your right to own or carry a firearm is in jeopardy, a lawyer with our firm can help. Read on to learn more about your legal obligations as a Pennsylvania gun owner and how we can protect your right to bear arms.
What Licensing Does Pennsylvania Require to Carry a Firearm?
Under 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 6108, it is against the law for anyone to openly carry a firearm on any public street or in any public place in Pennsylvania, except for military and law enforcement agents. However, Pennsylvania gun owners can obtain a License to Carry Firearms (LTCF) permit, which allows them to conceal and carry or carry firearms in their vehicle.
According to the Pennsylvania Firearms Owners Association (PAFOA), you can obtain an LTCF permit through your local county sheriff’s office. The process involves submitting an application (in person), passing a background check, completing a short interview, and paying the appropriate fees. Note that you do not need a permit to conceal and carry or carry openly while in your private residence or a fixed place of business.
What Is the Penalty for Carrying Without a Permit?
While it is not illegal to carry an unregistered firearm in Pennsylvania, it is against the law to conceal and carry it without a license. 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 6106 states that anyone caught carrying without a license who has not committed another criminal violation will face first-degree misdemeanor charges. If you have a criminal record or prior gun convictions, it is a felony in the third degree to carry without a license.
A first-degree misdemeanor carries a penalty of $250 in fines and up to 90 days in jail. A third-degree felony is punishable by fines of not less than $2,500 (up to $15,000) and up to seven years imprisonment.
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Who Can Legally Carry a Firearm in Pennsylvania?
You cannot possess a firearm in Pennsylvania under the age of 18 unless you obtain a Sportsman’s Firearm Permit. Additionally, only gun owners over the age of 21 can apply for an LTCF permit.
Furthermore, the law prohibits individuals convicted of certain criminal offenses from possessing or carrying firearms. You may not carry or own a gun if you have felony convictions or convictions for the following crimes:
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Involuntary manslaughter involving a firearm
- Aggravated assault
- Three or more driving under the influence (DUI) offenses within five years
Does Pennsylvania Record Firearms Sales and Transfers?
Yes. Technically, Pennsylvania does not maintain a firearms registry, but 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 6111 requires that gun dealers maintain application/sales records and forward those records to the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), which keeps a permanent database of handgun sales (long gun records are destroyed within 72 hours of the purchaser’s completed background check).
Furthermore, if you wish to transfer a firearm to another owner, you must do so at a licensed gun dealer’s place of business. The dealer does not have to submit applications/sales records for transfers to the police, but they must provide PSP with proof of background checks and a record of the number of firearms transferred.
What Should You Do If You Face Criminal Gun Charges in Pennsylvania?
Criminal gun charges can come with hefty fines and jail time. Additionally, some criminal convictions can lead to the loss of your gun rights. If you were carrying a concealed weapon on your person or in your vehicle without a license, or you are accused of another offense involving a firearm, you may want to consult with a lawyer with our firm.
How Can a Lawyer Help You?
We can use our knowledge of state and federal gun laws and criminal defense experience to protect your rights. Our legal team will:
- Work to get you released on bail/get your bail minimized
- Fight to get your charges dismissed or reduced
- Collect evidence, including witness statements and police reports
- Review your arrest and ensure law enforcement acted legally and followed procedure
- Examine the evidence against you and create your defense
- Negotiate with prosecutors to secure a plea bargain
- Represent you at trial if necessary
Contact the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC, for Help Today
Do not leave your rights and freedom to chance. Instead, contact the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC, for a free consultation and learn more about how our criminal defense lawyers in Pennsylvania can defend you against firearms charges.