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Pennsylvania Gun Rights

An Overview of Firearms Laws in the Keystone State

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Constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms?

Yes. The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.

Concealed Carry

Pennsylvania is a shall-issue state, meaning authorities are required to issue carry permits to qualified applicants. Qualified applicants must be at least 21 years of age and be deemed of good character.

State law restricts gun permits for the typical list of persons, including convicted felons, persons with certain mental illnesses, persons currently charged with felonies and persons who have been dishonorably discharged from the military. Pennsylvania also denies permits to persons who are “habitual” drunkards or drug users, along with persons deemed to be of character or reputation that makes them considered likely to cause harm to the public.

Permits are applied for through local law enforcement — usually county sheriffs, but chiefs of police in large municipalities — and are issued with 45 days. They are valid for four years at a cost of $19.

Pennsylvania’s carry permits are honored by the following states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The state honors permits from Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Castle Doctrine

Pennsylvania has a self-defense law based on the castle doctrine. Enacted in 2011, the law permits the use of physical force, including deadly force, against attackers inside one’s home or in any place the victim has the right to be. Backed by the National Rifle Association, Pennsylvania became the 27th state to adopt a castle doctrine law with the bill’s passage in the state’s legislature.

In addition to providing for the use of physical or deadly force against attackers, the law also provides civil immunity for persons who are forced to resort to force to stop an attack.

Pro-Gun Provisions

Pennsylvania allows open carry of gun in most locations. Persons must be at least 18 years old to carry, and must have a carry permit before carrying firearms in their vehicle. Some cities have stricter laws regarding open carry.

Pennsylvania also has a firearms preemption law that prevents cities or counties from passing gun laws that are more restrictive than state law, and a range protection law that extends protection to gun firing ranges.

Restrictions

  • Gun bans: None.
  • Waiting period for gun purchases: None.
  • Licenses or permits required to purchase guns: None.
  • Registration of guns required? No.

Pennsylvania has a provision that prevents persons from carrying guns on public streets during government-declared states of emergency. Exceptions allow persons with carry permits to carry during emergencies. Persons engaged in self-defense are also excused from the restriction.

Open carry is also not permitted in Philadelphia.

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