What you need to know about Pennsylvania firearm laws

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees all citizens, including those living in Pennsylvania, the right to bear arms. However, each state is allowed to regulate under what circumstances and conditions a citizen is allowed to carry a gun, particularly one that is concealed.

Per the Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association, gun owners do not need a license to openly carry their gun(s), assuming they are not openly carrying them in a motor vehicle. Nor do they need to register their guns. Surprisingly enough, Section 6111.4 of the Pennsylvania Statutes prohibits any governmental or police agency from keeping a firearms registry. Should a gun owner wish to sell or otherwise transfer his or her guns to someone else, however, he or she must go through the Pennsylvania Instant Check System to do so. The Pennsylvania State Police keep a registry, called a “sales database,” of all such sales within the state.

A person must be at least 18 years old to legally possess a gun in Pennsylvania, with two exceptions. A minor may possess a gun if his or her parent, legal guardian or grandparent is supervising him or her. A minor also can possess a gun if he or she is engaged in legal hunting or trapping activities.

Applying for a License to Carry Firearms

The Pennsylvania State Police explain that anyone wishing to carry a concealed weapon must apply to their county sheriff or, if they live in a first-class city, their chief of police, for a license to do so and pay the applicable fee. The sheriff or police chief then has 45 days in which to investigate the person to make sure he or she is eligible to receive a license. Such investigation includes running the person through the PICS system. Even if nothing negative comes up there, the sheriff or police chief may refuse to issue a license if he or she discovers anything about the applicant’s reputation or character that indicates the gun could be used in a dangerous manner.