Our Philadelphia Criminal defense law firm frequently receives questions regarding the purchase and maintenance of guns and firearms within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In the Commonwealth, gun ownership and crimes related to guns and firearms are covered under the Uniform Firearms Act. Our criminal defense blog is based on questions that we receive and our goal is always to provide answers in an easy to read format. Here is a list of the 5 most common questions that we receive on this topic:
1. Question: Is a permit required to purchase a gun, firearm or ammunition in Pennsylvania?
Answer: No. Unlike a state like New Jersey, a person doesn’t need to obtain a permit or a license to purchase or own a firearm.
2. Question: What is the minimum age to purchase a handgun from a dealer or a non-dealer?
Answer: The minimum age to purchase from a dealer in Pennsylvania is 21, while the minimum age to purchase from a non-dealer in 18.
3. Question: Is there a background check for the purchase of handguns and long guns in Pennsylvania?
Answer: Yes. A background check is mandatory for all handgun purchases other than those handguns that are inherited or presented as a spousal or a lineal gift. A background check is also required for long gun purchases from a dealer but not a private party. All private party sellers, however, have a legal duty not to sell a long gun to a prohibited person.
4. Is a permit required for concealed or open carry in Pennsylvania?
Answer: A permit is required for concealed carry in Pennsylvania but there is actually no permit required to open carry in Pennsylvania except in the City of Philadelphia. Please keep in mind, however, that a permit is required to carry a loaded or unloaded handgun in a vehicle or car within the Commonwealth. If you would like to find out about carry permits in New Jersey, check out my article on that topic.
5. What is defined as a handgun in Pennsylvania?
Answer: A handgun is any pistol or revolver with a barrel length less than 15 inches, any shotgun with any barrel length less than 18 inches, or any rifle with a barrel length less than 16 inches. A handgun is also considered any pistol, revolver, rifle, or shotgun with an overall length of less than 26 inches. The barrel length of a firearm is determined by measuring from the muzzle of the barrel to the face of the closed action, bolt, or cylinder.