With gun regulations enacted over the last few decades, Pennsylvania has been adamant in protecting citizens’ right to bear arms while maintaining a level of regulation intended to promote gun safety. In 1995, Pennsylvania amended its firearm policy from ”may issue” to “shall issue,” which means if an applicant meets specific requirements, local law enforcement must issue them a license to carry a firearm. That same year, the state introduced its Reciprocity Law, allowing Pennsylvania to engage in reciprocity agreements with other states.
On this page, we’ve outlined key gun laws regarding firearm ownership in Pennsylvania. From concealed-carry laws to the firearm application process, here’s what Pennsylvania citizens should know about owning and carrying a gun.
The Dos and Don’ts of Concealed Carry in PA
Changing regulations, public opinion, and general misinformation have contributed to the confusion around what is permissible and what is not when carrying a firearm. In this section, we’ve broken down the dos and don’ts according to Pennsylvania gun regulation.
Where you can carry firearms in Pennsylvania
- You can carry a firearm in Pennsylvania without a permit in your home or primary place of business
- You can carry in state parks, national parks, state game management units, and rest areas
- Open carry is allowed if you are over the age of 18 and legally permitted to possess a firearm (note – you need a permit/license to open carry in a vehicle or in the city of Philadelphia)
- You can carry in liquor establishments unless otherwise posted
Where you can’t carry firearms in Pennsylvania
- Concealed carry in a vehicle or on your person is not allowed without a permit or lawful exception outside of your home or primary place of business. Pennsylvania Code § 6106.
- You are not required to notify an officer that you have a firearm when approached on official business; you ARE, however, required to carry your concealed-carry permit at all times. Pennsylvania Code § 6122.
- While there are no legal penalties for entering some private properties or businesses with a firearm when “no weapons” signage is present, it is recommended that you do not enter those establishments with a firearm. While these establishments have no force of law, unless signs are present in areas specified in the law (bars that serve alcohol), you are breaking the law if you are asked to leave the premises and refuse.
How to Get a Handgun License in Pennsylvania
To obtain a handgun license in Pennsylvania, you must apply for one and meet specific requirements. To apply for a CCW license, you must download the online application form, obtain two personal references (no family members), and take the filled-out application and your driver’s license or state ID to your local Sheriff’s Office. You will wait approximately 45 days to be notified of your approval or denial. If approved, you’ll pick up your license/permit from the Sheriff’s Office. It costs $20 to submit your application. The requirements you must meet to be approved are:
- Be 21 years of age or older and have a photo ID
- Be a resident of the county in which you are applying for at least 90 days
- Have no criminal convictions
- Be in good standing of character and reputation, acting in a manner that will not be dangerous to public safety
- Not be a habitual drunkard, addicted to or user of marijuana, stimulants, depressants, or narcotic drugs
- Meet federal law requirements
Additional Questions About Firearms in Pennsylvania
If you have additional questions about firearm ownership, check out our infographic, follow our blog, or reach out to our knowledgeable team at Bonner Law. We’ll ensure you have the most up-to-date and accurate information concerning gun safety and regulation. Call us at 610-450-4555 or toll-free at 833-GET-OUT1 (for criminal cases) to schedule a free consultation. You can also fill out our convenient and confidential online form, and we’ll reach back out to you.