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What are Pennsylvania's laws regarding gun ownership?

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution gives citizens the right to bear arms, a right that is very important to many in Pennsylvania. However, this right is subject to certain restrictions, the violation of which could lead to weapons charges.

Under Pennsylvania law, there are certain types of firearms that, in general, are illegal. These include machine guns, firearms specifically manufactured in a way that would keep them concealed or allow them to discharge silently, sawed-off shotguns and firearms in which the manufacturer's number has been altered.

Otherwise, in Pennsylvania, one can generally 'open carry' a legal firearm (that is, having the firearm in plain view, such as in a holster) without needing to first obtain a permit. However, if one wants to carry a concealed firearm, that person needs to have in their possession a 'license to carry firearms' and be at least 21 years old. Just because a person in Pennsylvania has been convicted of a felony will not always automatically prevent him or her from owning a firearm.

However, there are certain classifications of individuals in Pennsylvania who are not allowed, per law, to purchase a gun. These include those convicted of a violent crime, no matter whether the conviction was a felony or a misdemeanor. Also, undocumented immigrants and people under 18 years old may not purchase a gun in Pennsylvania. Moreover, if a person has been deemed mentally ill by the court, that person cannot purchase a firearm, nor can people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. If a person is a fugitive from justice, he or she cannot purchase a firearm in Pennsylvania. In addition, if a person has three separate drunk driving convictions within five years, he or she cannot purchase a gun in Pennsylvania. Finally, if a person is subject to an active protection from abuse order, he or she cannot purchase a firearm in Pennsylvania.

It is important to understand what firearms may or may not be purchased and by whom. Pennsylvania courts will take firearm offenses very seriously. If a person in Pennsylvania is facing weapons charges, he or she should make sure to develop a strong argument in his or her defense, possibly with the help of a criminal defense attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Pennsylvania Gun Control Laws," accessed March 18, 2017

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