Understanding the Concealed Carry Law in PA

Understanding the Concealed Carry Law in PA

A bill under discussion in the state legislature aims to abolish Pennsylvania’s requirement for a license to conceal carry a weapon. The Keystone State is one of 30 in the U.S. that requires a license to carry a concealed weapon. The latest available data shows that about 1.3 million residents of the commonwealth – about 10% of our population – have a concealed carry license. The license allows you to carry the weapon on your person or in your car.

Whether the bill makes it through our House and Senate remains to be seen, and Gov. Tom Wolf has suggested he would veto the law if it came to his desk. As of now, the state’s concealed carry laws are very much in place.

Concealed Carry License Requirements

States requiring a license or permit to conceal carry a weapon are designated as either “may issue” or “shall issue” states. Locations that are “may issue” have stricter requirements and more latitude in denying the license.

Pennsylvania is a “shall issue” state, but there are still conditions that must be met to obtain the license:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Possess a valid driver’s license or other official ID
  • Complete an application at their county’s sheriff office (except in Philadelphia, which requires you to apply for concealed carry with the chief of police)
  • Provide a passport-sized photo
  • Pay the fee (varies from county to county)

Pennsylvania law requires the license be approved or denied within 45 days of the application. The license is valid for five years from the issue date. The state gives permits to nonresidents, but they must have a valid concealed carry license in their home state and provide a copy of it with their application. You do not need to have a concealed carry license in your own home or fixed place of business.

Concealed Carry Reciprocity

The following states will recognize your Pennsylvania Concealed Carry License: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Purpose of a Concealed Carry License

The licensing process allows law enforcement to complete a background check and keep guns out of the hands of those who should not possess them.

Reasons for License Denial

The sheriff will conduct a background check and may interview references.

You will be denied a license if any of the following are true:

  • You have ever been committed to a mental institution
  • You have a character and reputation that you would likely act in a manner dangerous to public safety
  • You have been convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent for, an offense under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act
  • You have been convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent for, a crime for possessing a firearm
  • You are addicted to or are an unlawful user of marijuana or a stimulant, depressant, or narcotic drug
  • You are a habitual drunkard
  • You have been charged with or have been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year
  • You are illegally in the U.S.
  • You were dishonorably discharged from the armed forces of the United States
  • You are prohibited from possessing, using, manufacturing, controlling, purchasing, selling, or transferring a firearm

With the exception of Philadelphia, there is no permit required for open carry and it is legal for anyone at least 18 years old and who is legally allowed to possess a firearm.

Revoking a Concealed Carry License

There are circumstances that would cause your concealed carry license to be revoked. You will not be permitted to carry a gun if you are under indictment or have been convicted of a crime punishable by at least one year in prison. Federal law prohibits any convicted felon from purchasing or possessing a firearm.

Consequences of Concealed Carry Without a License

If you are caught with a concealed weapon without a license, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances. Even with a license, it is illegal to carry a weapon in some places, including the grounds of a school or courthouse.

You can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor if you are found in possession of a concealed weapon without a license but would qualify for a license. Punishment is up to five years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. That charge can be elevated to a third-degree felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine, if you are caught with the concealed weapon and you would be ineligible for the license.  

Stand Your Ground

In Pennsylvania, you are allowed to use force in certain circumstances. Generally, you have the right to defend yourself if you feel you (or a loved one) are in imminent harm. You have this right not only in your home, but anywhere you have the legal right to be. Limitations to the law include that you cannot have provoked the other person, you cannot be involved in illegal activity, and you cannot use force to resist arrest.

Protecting Your Second Amendment Rights

When you are facing a firearms charge, or you believe you were inappropriately denied the right to conceal carry, you need an attorney well-versed in Pennsylvania’s gun laws. Our experienced lawyers have deep knowledge of the state’s laws and can defend you against these charges.

Call Scaringi Law at (717) 775-7195 or use our online form.


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