Owning a gun is a right in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States, but it is also a serious responsibility. Gun owners must follow state and federal laws regarding firearm ownership and use to maintain this right. In general, laws a gun owner in Pennsylvania should be aware of include those related to:
- Qualifications for gun ownership
- Purchasing a firearm
- Concealed carry, gun transportation, and use of a firearm
Those who violate these regulations are subject to serious penalties.
Who Qualifies to Own a Gun in Pennsylvania?
Per 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 6110.1, you must be at least 18 years old to possess or transport a firearm in the state, though there are exceptions when a supervising adult is present. Aside from this age limit, most residents of Pennsylvania can own a gun.
In general, no license or registration is required to own a gun. However, a permit or license may be necessary for carrying, transporting, or using the firearm, as explained further below.
Losing Your Right to Gun Ownership
Pennsylvania law does prohibit certain individuals from owning a gun – namely, fugitives of the law and those with certain convictions, as outlined in 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 6105. For example, you may lose your gun rights if you are:
- Convicted of driving under the influence on three or more occasions
- Involuntarily committed to a mental institution
- The subject of an active protective order related to abuse
- Convicted of kidnapping, murder, voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, rape, possession of prohibited weapons, or other offenses outlined in the statute
This statute applies for convictions obtained in Pennsylvania, at the federal level, and in other states. Only certain conditions allow you to restore your right to gun ownership. If you own a gun and face one of these circumstances, you will have 60 days to sell or transfer the firearm.
Regulations for Purchasing or Selling a Firearm in Pennsylvania
18 Pa. C.S.A. § 6111 outlines the laws regarding gun sales and transfers. It indicates that a criminal background check with the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) is required for each purchase. Presentation of a photo ID is required to complete this check.
If you plan to sell or transfer a handgun to another individual through a private sale, you must do so through a licensed firearm dealer. However, exceptions are made for transfers from:
- A spouse
- A parent
- A grandparent
Any firearms sales or transfers to out-of-state individuals also require the use of a licensed dealer.
Laws Regarding Concealed Carry, Transportation, and Use of Guns
A gun permit is required in Pennsylvania for carrying a concealed weapon in public or transporting a firearm in a vehicle under 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 6109. Exceptions apply if you are carrying the weapon in your home or private business space.
You must be at least 21 years old to apply for this concealed carry permit. In addition, a sportsman’s firearm permit is required to use a gun while hunting, fishing, or trapping, per 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 6106(c).
If you want to take your firearm outside of Pennsylvania, you must be aware of the reciprocity laws for those states, as well. Not all states recognize PA gun permits.
Use of a Firearm in Self-Defense
Pennsylvania statute 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 505 describes the circumstances under which you may defend yourself from harm using a firearm. The scenario must meet the following conditions:
- You are in legal possession of the firearm and not otherwise engaging in criminal activity.
- You have a legal right to be on the premises.
- You believe you are in immediate danger of serious bodily harm, death, rape, or kidnapping.
- The attacker has a deadly weapon.
In this case, the use of force or deadly force using a gun may be justifiable under state law.
Reach Out to Our Firm If You Are Facing Gun Charges in Pennsylvania
Violation of any of these and other gun-related laws can leave you facing firearms charges in Pennsylvania. Moreover, committing certain state or federal offenses can lead to a criminal conviction and the loss of your right to possess a firearm. As such, it’s crucial for gun owners to be aware of laws that apply to them at all times.
If you are facing a conviction that could put your rights in jeopardy, our team at McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., wants to hear about your case right away. We can review the charges against you in a free consultation and determine your next steps for building a defense. Call (610) 991-7219 today to hear more about our services and what our criminal defense attorney can do for you.