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What are the Gun Laws in Pennsylvania?

Firearms

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Caution: This summary is meant for general purposes only. Firearm laws frequently change and the following answers may not reflect changes in the laws.

Quick Reference (As of July, 2006)

Rifles and Shotguns
  • Permit to purchase rifles and shotguns? No
  • Registration of rifles and shotguns? No
  • Licensing of owners of rifles and shotguns? No
  • Permit to carry rifles and shotguns? No

Handguns

  • Permit to purchase handgun? No
  • Registration of handguns? No
  • Licensing of owners of handguns? No
  • Permit to carry handguns? Yes

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 between spouses, parent and child or 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.

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.

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 any firearm:
  • Any person convicted of a crime of violence.

  • Any person who is a fugitive, or has been convicted of a controlled substance offense punishable by more than two years.

  • Adjudicated mentally incompetent or involuntarily committed to a mental institution.

  • Illegal alien.

  • Adjudicated a delinquent for an offense that would disqualify one from possessing a firearm if committed by an adult, or subject to a protection from abuse (PFA) court order that prohibits possession of a firearm.
It is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by five 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.

It is unlawful to possess any firearm 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.

It is unlawful for 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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