Pennsylvania is considered an “open carry” state, which means that it is generally legal for an adult to openly carry a firearm without a permit. In fact, according to Section 21 of the Pennsylvania State Constitution, every citizen has a right “…to bear arms in defence [sic] of themselves and the State...” (Penn. Stat. and Con. Stat. Art. I § 21.)
However, Pennsylvania’s open carry policy does not mean that everyone may have a gun, or that you may always carry a gun wherever you like. While you may carry a concealed weapon in your own house or fixed place of business without a permit, you are required to obtain a special concealed carry permit to carry a concealed weapon under most other circumstances. (18 Penn. Stat. and Con. Stat. § 1290.4.) For more information, see Gun Permit Laws in Pennsylvania.
The following sections explain who may not have a gun, and the circumstances or situations when carrying a gun is illegal.
The following individuals are prohibited from carrying a weapon (open or concealed) in Pennsylvania.
(18 Penn. Stat. and Con. Stat. § 6105 & 6109.)
The following rules govern when you may not carry a gun in Pennsylvania. They do not apply to peace officers, members of the armed services when on active duty, agents and messengers engaged in duties requiring them to protect money or valuables, weapons merchants or repair people, or people training dogs or engaged in hunting with a valid hunting permit.
In Pennsylvania, it is a third degree felony to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. Penalties include a fine of up to $15,000, up to seven years in prison, or both. (18 Penn. Rev. Stat. and Con. Stats. § 1101.)
It is a second degree felony for a person prohibited from carrying a weapon to do so. Penalties include a fine of up to $25,000, up to ten years in prison, or both. (18 Penn. Stat. and Con. Stat. § 6105.)
It is a misdemeanor in the first degree to carry a firearm into a court facility. Penalties include a fine of up to $10,000, up to five years in prison, or both. (18 Penn. Rev. Stat. and Con. Stats. § 913.)
The penalties for violating gun carry laws are serious. If you have any questions about whether you are allowed to carry a gun in Pennsylvania, or if you are facing charges for a gun violation, consult a qualified criminal defense lawyer.