“The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.”


Pennsylvania is a shall-issue state. There is no permit required to purchase firearms. The state police maintain a database of all handgun buyers. Private-party transfers of handguns must be through a licensed dealer and a background check is required. Open carry is legal at 18. You will need a PA License to Carry Firearms (LCF) in order to open or conceal carry in a vehicle and to open carry in the city of Philadelphia. Concealed carry is legal with an LCF. PA only honors resident CCW licenses from states with which it has a reciprocity agreement. PA is a Castle Doctrine state and has a “stand your ground” law. There is no duty to retreat.

Reciprocal Carry

By statute, Pennsylvania will recognize another state’s license to carry if that state recognizes Pennsylvania’s license:

“The Attorney General shall have the power and duty to enter into reciprocity agreements with other states providing for the mutual recognition of a license to carry a firearm issued by the Commonwealth and a license or permit to carry a firearm issued by the other state.”

Anyone contemplating reciprocal carry should check with the official list maintained by the Pennsylvania AG at the point in time the reciprocal carry is to occur.

Duty To Notify Police Officer

When carrying a firearm concealed on or about one’s person or in a vehicle, an individual licensed to carry must produce their license/permit to carry a firearm for inspection upon the request from a LEO.

Carrying Firearms In Vehicles

Pennsylvania generally prohibits carrying firearms in vehicles without a permit. Carrying a loaded long gun is illegal. People without permits may only carry firearms in their vehicle if they are unloaded, and they are transporting it to or from: the place of purchase or repair, a shooting range, or hunting activities.

NFA Items

Pennsylvania permits ownership of all NFA items, provided they are legally obtained pursuant to federal law. It is legal to use suppressors for hunting.

Self-Defense Laws

Pennsylvania has both Castle Doctrine and SYG laws. There is no duty to retreat when in Your dwelling. You may use force, including deadly force, in defense of yourself or others if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death, SBI, the commission of a forcible felony, or if necessary to protect Your dwelling, place of business, or occupied motor home from arson, burglary, robbery, or other forcible felonies.

Carry In Restaurants That Serve Alcohol

A person may carry in restaurants that serve alcohol if you possess a valid concealed handgun license. Places like Fridays or Chili’s unless they have a “No Gun Sign,” then it is suggested that You not carry into the establishment. This does not include a bar or the bar area of a restaurant – You are prohibited from carrying into these areas. You can carry Your firearm into a restaurant that serves alcohol, but You are prohibited from carrying while You consume alcohol or are under the influence of alcohol.

Do “No Gun Signs” Have The Force Of Law?

“No Firearm” signs in Pennsylvania do not have the force of law unless they are posted on property that is specifically mentioned in State law as being off limits to those with a permit/license to carry. However, as a possessor with a real property interest, a retailer, has the right to limit, and qualify the right to enter the property, subject to not carrying a handgun. It would be improper to enter, and the licensee would be subject to ejection for possession of a handgun thereat. Failure to leave once requested would subject the licensee to criminal charges.

Open Carry

Open carry is legal, except a valid permit/license is needed to carry a loaded handgun openly or concealed in a vehicle and for openly carrying in the city of Philadelphia. Philadelphia has laws/ordinances concerning open carry and only those with a valid permit/license to carry can open carry in Philadelphia. The minimum age to open carry is 18.

Universal Background Checks

Pennsylvania requires that every sale of a handgun go through an FFL to conduct a background check.

DISCLAIMER: The Gun Laws by State Guide (GLBSG) was created to provide its readers with a general educational resource tool to explore the pertinent gun laws in Your jurisdiction.

However, the GLBSG was not researched and/or written by attorneys as a specific legal guide to rely upon. Instead, it is a starting point for your own research. In addition, all laws are always subject to reasonable, but different, legal interpretation as to meaning and application.

As such, the GLBSG is not intended to supplant, nor limit, Your need for independent verification of any and all material contained herein and consultation with competent counsel of choice regarding any specific issues.

This type of specific legal analysis is necessarily beyond the general educational objective of the GLBSG and for which a bar-admitted attorney in the particular state(s) is needed and required. The content of this GLBSG is a general restatement of the law.

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