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Which weapons are illegal to possess in Philadelphia?

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution protects a person's right to bear arms. However, this only protects a person's right to possess certain firearms and those rights can be taken away if the person commits certain acts. There are also a number of weapons that no one, even if they have the right to possess a firearm, can possess. The ownership of these weapons can result in gun charges for residents of Philadelphia.

These weapons are seen as having no lawful purpose and can cause an excessive amount of damage or are designed specifically to harm to others. These weapons include: bombs, grenades, machine guns, certain sawed-off shotguns, guns with silencers, stun guns, tasers and other instruments that emit electric shock, metal knuckles, switchblades and others. If a person is caught with one of these weapons he or she could be charged with a first degree misdemeanor.

There are a couple of limited exceptions, though. If the person can prove that the he or she had the weapon solely for display, complied with the National Firearms Act except for bombs and grenades, or took it from an aggressor and can demonstrate that the person taking it had no intention of using it unlawfully then they may not be guilty of illegally possessing the weapon.

Just like with other weapons charges, if a person is charged with possessing an offensive weapon, they could be facing serious consequences. However, the person is still innocent until proven guilty. There are also potential defenses available depending on the facts of the case. These many times start with whether the police lawfully seized the offensive weapon. If the seizure was illegal the prosecution may not be able to use the evidence of the weapon, making a conviction much less likely.

People in Philadelphia who are charged with weapons possession may be facing serious consequences. This post is only general information and not legal advice. Experienced attorneys can help defend a person charged with either misdemeanor or felony gun charges in order to protect their rights.

Source:, "Prohibited offensive weapons," accessed December 1, 2014

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