Gun laws in Pennsylvania
|Subject/Law||Long guns||Handguns||Relevant statutes||Notes|
|Constitutional Right to Bear Arms||Yes||The right of the citizens to bear arms in defence of themselves and the State shall not be questioned. Art. 1, § 21 (enacted 1790, art. IX, § 21).|
|State permit to purchase?||No||No|
|Firearm registration?||No||No||(18 Pa.C.S. § 6111.4)||Notwithstanding any section of this chapter to the contrary, nothing in this chapter shall be construed to allow any government or law enforcement agency or any agent thereof to create, maintain or operate any registry of firearm ownership within this Commonwealth. For the purposes of this section only, the term "firearm" shall include any weapon that is designed to or may readily be converted to expel any projectile by the action of an explosive or the frame or receiver of any such weapon.|
|"Assault weapon" law?||No||No|
|Owner license required?||No||No|
|Carry permits issued?||Yes*||Yes||18 Pa.C.S. § 6109||License to Carry Firearms issued on a "shall-issue" basis. *A LTCF normally doesn't affect rifles and shotguns, however a LTCF is required to carry a rifle or shotgun within a City of the First Class (Philadelphia is the only one) and during a declared state of emergency.|
|Open carry?||Yes||Yes||Unlicensed open-carry everywhere except Philadelphia or in/on a vehicle.|
|Castle Law/Stand Your Ground?||Yes||Yes||||Castle Law. No duty to retreat inside castle. No duty to retreat outside castle if confronted with a deadly weapon.|
|State preemption of local restrictions?||Yes||Yes||18 Pa.C.S. § 6120|
|NFA weapons restricted?||No||No|
|Peaceable Journey laws?||Yes||Yes|
The Constitution of Pennsylvania protects the right of citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state. The state preempts local regulation of the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition, or ammunition components.
Pennsylvania law requires that information received by the Pennsylvania State Police pursuant to a sale is destroyed within 72 hours of the completion of the background check. The Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association notes that the Pennsylvania State Police nonetheless keep a "sales database" of all handguns purchased within the state. The database was challenged based on what was asserted as the unambiguous text of the statute, specifically "nothing... ...shall be construed to allow any government or law enforcement agency or any agent thereof to create, maintain or operate any registry of firearm ownership within this Commonwealth" (full statute text above), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court nonetheless ruled in Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League v. Rendell, 860 A.2d 10 (Pa. 2004), that Pennsylvania’s database of handgun sales is not prohibited by state law because the registration was only of handgun sales and not of all guns.
No firearms are known to be prohibited by state law. Private sales of handguns must go through a licensed dealer, though long guns may be sold privately without the use of a licensed dealer. Licensed dealers must provide locking devices with handguns unless the handgun has a locking device incorporated in its design. Firearms are prohibited from certain places, including court facilities. Concealed carry on school property is currently an unsettled area of the law with many in law enforcement arguing that the practice is absolutely prohibited and firearms right supporters arguing that 18 Pa.C.S. 912(c) permits those who have a concealed carry license to carry on school grounds as an "other lawful purpose." Carrying a handgun on public streets and public property of Philadelphia, or in a vehicle anywhere in the state, or concealed on or about one's person anywhere in the state is prohibited without a "License To Carry Firearms" (LTCF) or a license or permit issued by another state which is honored by Pennsylvania for that purpose. A LTCF is generally not required to openly carry a firearm on or about one's person, except in a vehicle or in Philadelphia, or during a declared State of Emergency. A bill proposed in September 2014 would allow teachers and school employees carry guns.
Pennsylvania shall issue a LTCF to resident and non-resident applicants if no good cause exists to deny the license. Non-resident applicants must first obtain a license from their home state, unless their home state does not issue licenses.
Pennsylvania recognizes carry permits from some other states by statute and has formal reciprocity with some others for resident and non-resident permits. However, some agreements have been modified by the Attorney General to extend reciprocity to residents of the state of issue only. Florida, Arizona and Virginia have had their agreements modified in this manner.
- "Pennsylvania State Law Summary", Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
- "State Gun Laws: Pennsylvania", National Rifle Association – Institute for Legislative Action. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
- "Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives – State Laws and Published Ordinances – Firearms" (PDF). Retrieved January 2, 2013.
- "Pennsylvania Firearm/Gun Law". Pafoa.org. 2007-10-02. Retrieved 2012-07-09.
- "LCAV. Registration of Firearms. In Regulating Guns in America: An Evaluation and Comparative Analysis of Federal, State, and Selected Local Gun Laws (2008). Retrieved July 8, 2011." (PDF). Retrieved 2012-05-22.
- "Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association – Open Carry". Pafoa.org. 2007-10-02. Retrieved 2012-05-22.
- Gautz, Chris. "Response mixed on bill to let teachers carry guns". The Daily Item.