While many of our blog readers and video (YouTube) watchers frequently cross the bridge to and from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, without giving it much thought, it’s important to realize that these two states have dramatically different laws regarding handguns and firearms.
Selling or Transferring Guns & Firearms in Pennsylvania
In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania any person or dealer selling a handgun must sell it or transfer it through a licensed dealer or the county sheriff’s office. Further, any firearm transferred or sold through a licensed dealer (this includes handguns, rifles, and shot guns) is subject to an instant record check of their purchaser. There are no transfer requirements for the transfer of handguns between spouses, parents to children or between active law enforcement officers. There is also no transfer requirement for shotguns. Individuals within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are free to transfer these types of firearms without any license or documentation. Antique firearms are also exempt from these transfer and license requirements.
Possession of Firearms in Pennsylvania
With regards to possession, Pennsylvania doesn’t require a license to possess a handgun, rifle, or shotgun within your home or place of a business. If a handgun is being transported in a vehicle through Pennsylvania, without a license to carry, it must be unloaded. Pennsylvania doesn’t require a permit to purchase rifles, shotguns, or handguns nor does it require a person to register his or her firearms or obtain a license to simply own one. The Commonwealth, however, does require a permit to carry a handgun outside of a person’s home or place of business.
What Are the Most Common Gun Crimes In Pennsylvania?
The most common gun charges in Pennsylvania are Violations of Section 6105, Section 6106, and Section 6110.2 of the Uniform Firearms Act (Title 18, Chapter 61, Section 6101). Section 6105 is the possession of a firearm by a person prohibited by law. Section 6106 is the possession of a firearm by a person without a license. Section 6110.2 is the possession of a firearm which has an obliterated or altered manufacture’s serial number. Section 6108 (Illegal carrying a gun or firearms on the Streets of Philadelphia) is a Misdemeanor Offense.
What Are the Most Common Gun Crimes In New Jersey?
In New Jersey, illegal gun and firearm crimes are what is known as indictable offenses in the Garden State. The most common offenses that our firm handles are 2C:39-4—Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, a crime of the second degree and 2C:39-5—Unlawful Possession of Weapon. Read my prior blog on New Jersey’s Grave Act for more information, especially mandatory minimum sentences
Possession, Selling, or Transferring Guns & Firearms in New Jersey
In State of New Jersey (aka “The Garden State”) the law is much different. It’s illegal to sell, give, transfer, or acquire any type of firearm, including a rifle or a shotgun, unless the buyer possesses a valid firearms purchase identification card and the seller signs a written certification identifying the purchaser. Unlike Pennsylvania, New Jersey requires a license to own a firearm of any type including antique firearms.
Permits to Carry – Pennsylvania vs. New Jersey
It is also illegal in New Jersey to even possess a firearm anywhere without a permit to carry and the law doesn’t make distinction between open or concealed carry. Pennsylvania doesn’t require a permit to purchase nor does it require a license to own a firearm including handguns. Like New Jersey, however, Pennsylvania requires a permit to carry a hand gun outside of your home or business.
Finally, while Pennsylvania and New Jersey share a river, and 3 bridges, the sharing ends there. Similar to license to practice law, New Jersey doesn’t honor a Pennsylvania gun permit so if you cross over into New Jersey with any type of firearm, you are potentially committing a crime. If a lawyer wants to practice law in the Garden State, he/she needs to pass its bar exam and if you want to have firearm you need to meet New Jersey’s requirements. While Pennsylvania has some tough gun laws, New Jersey has even harsher penalties which include mandatory minimum prison sentences under its Graves Act.
State vs. Commonwealth?
In closing, many people ask the difference between a Commonwealth and a State. There is no legal difference and the term “Commonwealth” emphasizes that Pennsylvania’s state government is based on the common consent of the people. The term symbolizes its freedom from the former Monarchy (i.e. Great Britain & King George). There are only 3 other states who make this distinction–Kentucky, Massachusetts. and Virginia.
Contact Our Criminal Defense and Illegal Gun & Firearm Lawyers in PA & NJ
Please click here to contact our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers. We offer free case reviews and serve the following areas in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Atlantic City, Camden, Cherry Hill, Chester, Conshohocken, Doylestown, Media, Norristown, Philadelphia, Pottstown, Salem, Upper Darby, Upper Merion, Upper Providence, Vineland & Woodbury areas.