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Helping You Understand Pennsylvania Gun Charges

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Pennsylvania is considered an “open carry” state, but the law does not allow you to carry certain guns or firearms in vehicles or to conceal them on your person without a license. The law also bans the ownership or possession of guns or firearms by certain classes of people.

It outlines the gun licensing procedures that allow you to carry a concealed weapon, provides the criteria for the licensing of gun dealers, provides the rules for the registration of gun sales, and outlines the penalties for violating the gun laws.

How State Law Defines ‘Firearm’

A firearm for purposes of Pennsylvania law includes the following:

  • Any revolver or pistol that has a barrel length less than 15 inches
  • Any shotgun that has a barrel length less than 18 inches
  • Any rifle that has a barrel length less than 16 inches
  • Any revolver, pistol, shotgun, or rifle that has a total length of 26 inches or less

The length of the barrel of a firearm is measured from the muzzle of the barrel to the face of the bolt, close action or cylinder, whichever might be applicable. Also, the definition of firearm implies that the firearm is operable and/or capable of being fired.

Common Firearm Offenses

Carrying Firearm Without A License

Under Pennsylvania law, to be found guilty of carrying a firearm without a license, the prosecutor must be able to establish that:

  • The weapon you were carrying was a firearm
  • You did not have a license to carry the firearm; and
  • If the firearm was concealed on your person, you were outside of your house or fixed place of business.

If the firearm is found inside your car, its simple presence does not establish that you have possession of the firearm. The prosecutor must be able to prove that you had control over the firearm and that you intended to exercise control over the firearm, meaning you knew that the firearm was inside the car.

If the prosecutor can prove that you were carrying a firearm without a license, you may potentially be convicted of a third-degree felony. Penalties for a second-degree felony include up to 10 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $25,000.

Carrying A Firearm If You Have A Conviction

Pennsylvania law prohibits certain people who have been convicted of certain offenses from using, possessing, manufacturing, controlling, selling, or transferring firearms, and prevents them from obtaining licenses to do so. Some of these offenses include those relating to burglary, rape, murder, robbery, stalking, criminal trespass or corruption of minors.

A violation of this law is not dependent on your use of the firearm, rather, if you have been convicted of an enumerated offense or your past conduct prevents you from possessing a firearm, it is illegal for you to simply possess the firearm. The purpose of this law is to protect the public from convicted criminals who possess firearms, no matter whether your previous crime involved the use of a firearm.

If you are caught with a firearm and you were previously convicted of a felony listed under the law, you can be found guilty of a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony is punishable by up to 10 years of imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $25,000.

As a side note, if you legally own a firearm, and you have recently been convicted for the first time of one of the listed crimes, you have a 60-day grace period to get rid of any firearms you may possess so that you do not violate the law that prohibits you from owning the firearm.

Giving A Firearm To A Minor

If you intend to give or deliver a firearm to a minor, you may be found guilty of a third-degree felony, which is punishable by up to seven years in jail and/or a fine of up to $15,000.

Time Is Critical When You Are Facing A Gun Charge

If you or a loved one has been charged with violating Pennsylvania’s gun laws, be sure to consult with Central Pennsylvania gun attorney Lee S. Cohen right away about this criminal matter.

Contact attorney Lee S. Cohen by calling 717-971-1974 or contacting him online for your free initial consultation.