So you’re moving to Pennsylvania, but you’re not sure what gun laws apply, or if there are special rules for moving a gun into the state. Here’s everything you need to know:
NOTE: Federal and state firearms laws can change frequently. This article is a summary of helpful guidelines, and is not to be treated as legal advice or a restatement of law. To determine which laws apply to your specific circumstance, you are strongly urged to consult a local attorney. It is your responsibility to stay up to date and comply with state and federal gun laws.
The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania protects the rights of its citizens to bear such arms as guns, both handguns and long guns, in order to defend themselves and their state as necessary. Although it is illegal for any police or government agency in the state to keep a registry of firearms owned or purchased, the state legislature has put certain firearms laws in place regarding gun ownership and use in Pennsylvania.
If you are moving guns to Pennsylvania, the main thing to keep in mind is that you need a carry license to have a gun in your car. It is also illegal to have a loaded long gun in your vehicle, for both long guns and hand guns, so make sure your guns are unloaded, and keep them locked in your trunk.
License to Carry
According to the Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association, gun owners are not required to register their firearms with any government agency. But in order to carry a concealed firearm anywhere in Pennsylvania, a gun owner must apply for and obtain a Pennsylvania LTCF, or “License to Carry Firearms”. Gun owners can apply for an LTCF, which is valid for 5 years, from the sheriff’s office in their county of residence, with the exception of Philadelphia, which handles LTCF requests through the Gun Permits and Tracking Unit of its police department. The LTCF process is relatively simple and inexpensive for gun owners with no prior criminal record. Pennsylvania law allows for unlicensed open carry in a vehicle anywhere in the state except Philadelphia.
Buying A Gun
Anyone buying a handgun within Pennsylvania’s borders must purchase it from a licensed dealer. They must also undergo a PICS check right at the point of sale, which is maintained by the state police in a sales database. The minimum age in the state to possess a firearm is 18 years of age, unless the minor individual is involved in hunting or trapping activities, or is under the supervision of a legal guardian or parent. Although the private sales of handguns to an individual must go through a licensed dealer, long guns such as rifles can legally be sold privately between two parties. State law in Pennsylvania does not prohibit the sale or possession of any specific types of firearms.
Gun owners are prohibited from bringing firearms into court facilities or from carrying concealed weapons onto school properties, although this issue is being currently challenged. Non-residents must be able to display a carry permit from their home state when travelling through Pennsylvania if instructed to by any law enforcement officer.
Pennsylvania observes the Castle Law, requiring no duty for a gun owner of a long gun or handgun, to retreat inside their castle, or residence, if confronted by an individual with a weapon possessing lethal force.
Please note that this article should not be considered legal advice, but instead provides general guidelines for you to keep in mind. It is your responsibility to up to date and comply with state and federal gun laws.