Is your Act 235 certificate a substitute for a concealed carry permit in Pennsylvania? The most common questions about Act 235.
Our law firm represents persons charged with illegal handgun and firearms offenses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. This legal representation sometimes includes persons who believe that they are compliant with Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act. Sadly, however, ignorance isn’t a legal defense and you should never assume that you understand the law when it comes to guns and firearms.
Our law firm also receive questions about Act 235 licenses and if they serve as substitute for a license to carry in Pennsylvania. Remember that carrying a handgun in Pennsylvania, without a permit to carry, is, in most cases, a felony offense! Act 235 requires that “privately employed agents, regardless of their place of residence or employers’ location who, as an incidence to their employment, carry a lethal weapon within this Commonwealth” obtain either training or a waiver of training and are certified through the program managed by the Pennsylvania State Police. Act 235 provides certification to privately employed agents to carry a lethal weapon. A lethal weapon is defined as an firearm, device, instrument, material, or any other substance that is capable of bringing about great bodily harm or death. The Lethal Weapons Training Act incorporates education and training as part of being a certified agent.
Some of the most common questions that our criminal defense law firm receives about Act 235 are as follows:
Am I permitted to carry my loaded handgun in my vehicle while traveling to and from work if I have my Act 235 certificate?
In August 2017, the Pennsylvania Superior Court issued an opinion in Commonwealth v. Anderson (Aug. 23, 2017), and ruled that an Act 235 certification is not a substitute for a license to carry. Agents are reminded of the Regulations governing Act 235, at Section 21.26(d), which state “The issuance of a certification card to a privately employed agent does not grant the agent the right or privilege to carry, possess, own, or have under his control a firearm contrary to 18 Pa. C.S. § § 6101—6120 (relating to Uniform Firearms Act).”
Given this Court decision, Act 235 agents should obtain a license to carry their firearms while in an off-duty status, including traveling to and from places of employment, or in instances where agents are required to conceal a firearm on duty, including loaded carry inside of a vehicle.
- If I am active and qualified retired law enforcement officer, am I authorized to carry firearms under Title 18 § 926C (LEOSA) or do I still obtain Act 235 to carry a firearm at work?
While federal and state law both permit ACTIVE and QUALIFIED RETIRED law enforcement officers to carry and conceal firearms with the appropriate identification, Act 235 is separate and distinct from it. Act 235 requires that privately employed agents, regardless of their place of residence or employers’ location who, as a condition of their employment, carry a handgun within Pennsylvania obtain either training or a waiver of training and are certified through the program managed by the Pennsylvania State Police.
It is a misdemeanor offense (22 P.S. § 49. Penalties) for a privately employed person to carry a firearm in the course of employment without the required training/waiver and certificate.
- Is there Act 235 waiver available if a person is serving or has served in the military?
No. The training for Act 235 is focused on the requirements of this profession in Pennsylvania, so regardless of having received similar training or having similar experience in the military, each applicant must complete the training program to be certified.
- Is there Act 235 waiver available if one is currently or was previously certified as an armed security officer in another state?
No. The training for Act 235 is focused on the requirements of this profession in Pennsylvania, so regardless of having received similar training or having similar experience in another state, each applicant must complete the training program to be certified.
- What is required to obtain an Act 235 License in Pennsylvania?
A person who wants to obtain an Act 235 License must complete the following steps.
All applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- 18 years of age or older
- Pass a physical examination by a medical doctor
- Uncorrected vision of at least 20/70 in one eye and 20/200 in the other
- Corrected vision of at least 20/20 in one eye and 20/40 in the other
- Pass hearing examination (permitted to use hearing aid)
- Pass a psychological examination administered by a licensed psychologist
- No conviction of a disqualifying criminal offense as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. Section 6105
- No conviction of misdemeanor of the first degree or higher
- No conviction of a crime of violence
- No active protection from abuse orders
- No previous involuntary mental health commitments
Applicants who meet the criteria above should use the TACS System to complete an online application. Use your last name, full birthday, and full social security number to log in as a New User at the top of the screen. Once you are in the system select the Home Act 235 button and select the Basic Training Application. Scroll down to select “Start Application”. Complete all required information on each screen and submit when you have finished. This will require a credit card payment of $50.00.
WAIVERS: Individuals with previous or current law enforcement certification or training may apply for waivers by answering questions and providing required documents within the application. Substantiating documents must be uploaded in the application. Documents that are mailed or faxed will not be attached to the application. No determinations regarding waivers will be made until the application has been submitted and reviewed by staff.
When you submit your application you will receive an automated email from Identigo/Morphotrust with instructions for scheduling your fingerprint session. You must be fingerprinted at one of the approved Identigo/Morphotrust locationsOpens In A New Window. You will not receive the results of your fingerprints, these will be forwarded directly to the Lethal Weapons Certification Unit for review.
When you submit your application you will also receive a confirmation email from the Lethal Weapons Certification Unit with instructions to download and print the physical and psychological examination forms. You must undergo a physical and psychological examination at your own expense. The physicians must be PA licensed and the physicians must submit completed and signed forms to the Lethal Weapons Certification Unit.
PHOTOGRAPHS: If you do not possess a valid PA driver’s license or are an out-of-state resident you must, in addition to the steps above, submit two (2) passport size photos to the Lethal Weapons Certification Unit at the address below.
PA State Police
Lethal Weapons Certification Unit
8002 Bretz Drive
Harrisburg, PA 17112
Once the Certification Unit has received your application, fingerprints, physical, and psychological examination, you will receive an approval or denial notification by email. If you receive official notification that you have been approved for training, you should schedule training at an Act 235 certified school. A list of certified schools can be found on the Certified Schools page. It is your responsibility to schedule the training after receiving the approval letter.
Upon completion of training, login to TACS using your last name, full birthday, and full social security number to submit the $30.00 certification fee by credit card payment. (We no longer accept checks or money orders.)
Fees & Costs – Act 235 License
|Application Fee – paid on the TACS website||$50.00|
|Fingerprint Fee – paid to MorphoTrust||$22.60|
|Certification Fee – paid on the TACS website||$30.00|
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