LICENSE TO CARRY FAQs
Q: What is the definition of a "firearm"?
A: Any pistol or revolver with a barrel length less than 15", any shotgun with a barrel length less than 18", or any rifle with a barrel length less than 16". Or, any pistol, revolver, rifle or shotgun with an overall length of less than 26". The barrel length of a firearm is determined by measuring from the muzzle of the barrel to the face of the closed action, bolt, or cylinder.
Q: Is a short barrel rifle (SBR) or short barrel shotgun (SBS) considered a "firearm"?
A: Yes. Since short barrel rifles (SBR) have barrels under 16" and short barrel shotguns (SBS) have barrels under 18", they are considered the same as a firearm for purposes of the Uniform Firearms Act provided they are registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) pursuant to the National Firearms Act.
Q: Is a black powder gun considered a firearm?
A: Typically no. Under the Uniform Firearms Act, a gun that has a matchlock, flintlock, or percussion cap type of ignition system is not considered a firearm. Also, any gun manufactured on or before 1898 is not considered a firearm; nor is any replica of any firearm described above if it is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional center fire fixed ammunition or it uses rimfire or conventional center fire fixed ammunition which is no longer manufactured in the United States and which is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade. These types of guns are considered to be Antique Firearms by the laws of Pennsylvania and the Unites States Code and are not typically subject to the laws under the Uniform Firearms Act.
Q: If I would like to carry an Antique Firearm concealed or in my vehicle, must I still possess a Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms?
A: Yes. For purposes of §6106(a) (relating to Firearms not to be carried without a license) of the Uniform Firearms Act, you must still possess a License to carry an Antique Firearm concealed or in your vehicle.
Q: How long will it take to get my PA License to Carry Firearms?
A: The State allows for 45 calendar days to complete the investigation process and make notification to the applicant.
Q: My License expires soon. How soon can I apply for a renewal?
A: You may apply up to 60 days before the date of expiration of your current License. We will not accept applications that are completed more than 60 days prior to expiration.
Q: If I possess a PA License to Carry Firearms and wish to purchase a firearm, why is the dealer still performing a background check on me?
A: Under an old law, there used to be a waiting period for the firearm purchase unless you possessed a License. Under the new law, there is no waiting period and everyone must have a background check performed. To the dealer, a PA License to Carry Firearms is nothing more than a second form of identification.
Q: Can I carry my firearm concealed in my vehicle?
A: Yes. A PA License to Carry Firearms permits the licensee to carry a loaded, concealed firearm on or about his or her person or in his or her vehicle. This means that you may carry your firearm loaded and concealed on yourself and in your vehicle. This is provided that you also currently possess your PA License to Carry Firearms. Do not leave it at home! If you do not possess a PA License to Carry Firearms or meet any one of the exceptions listed in the last question's answer, you may not carry a firearm concealed or in your vehicle.
Q: Can I "open carry" my firearm in my vehicle without a License?
A: No. A PA License to Carry Firearms is required to be able to have a firearm in your vehicle. This means that even if you have your firearm out in the open and visible while in your vehicle, you must still possess a License to Carry Firearms. If you do not possess a PA License to Carry Firearms or meet any one of the exceptions listed in the last question's answer, you may not carry a firearm in your vehicle.
Q: I want to carry my firearm concealed or in my vehicle, but I don't have my Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms on me. Is this OK?
A: No. Per §6122(a) (relating to Proof of license and exception) of the Uniform Firearms Act, you are required to be in possession of your Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms while you are carrying your firearm concealed or in your vehicle. Failure to present your License to a law enforcement officer upon demand is a Misdemeanor of the 1st degree.
Q: Since my hunting rifle/shotgun is not considered a firearm, am I allowed to carry it loaded in my vehicle when not hunting?
A: Except as permitted under the Pennsylvania Game Law, you are NOT permitted to carry a loaded long gun (rifle or shotgun) loaded in your vehicle. Even if you possess a Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms, this prohibition still applies to you unless you are a local, state, or federal law enforcement officer.
Q: Can I carry my firearm concealed outside of Pennsylvania?
A: Yes and no. Certain states have agreements with Pennsylvania as far as recognizing Pennsylvania’s Licenses to Carry Firearms. You can check which states honor this agreement on the Pennsylvania Attorney General's website found HERE.
Q: If I get stopped by a law enforcement officer and I am carrying a concealed firearm, what should I do?
A: We recommend that you immediately tell the officer that you have a firearm, where the firearm is, and that you possess a Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms. Let the officer take it from there. DO NOT attempt to show the officer the firearm or reach for the firearm unless the officer tells you to do so.
Q: Where can I not carry my firearm at all in Pennsylvania?
A: You cannot possess a firearm at the following locations:
Grounds and buildings of Elementary and Secondary schools (grades K-12), whether the school is private or public (18 Pa.CS, Section 912);
Within 1000 feet of a school unless you have a Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms (18 USC, Section 922(q));
Courthouses, Magisterial District Judges' offices, other court facilities, Judges' chambers, witness rooms, jury deliberation rooms, attorney conference rooms, prisoner holding cells and any adjoining hallways or corridors (18 Pa.CS, Section 913);
Offices of the Clerk of Courts, District Attorney, Sheriff, Probation Department and any adjoining hallways or corridors (18 Pa.CS, Section 913);
Detention facilities, correctional institutions, and mental hospitals (18 Pa.CS, Section 5122);
Buildings appurtenant thereto any correctional institution, lands granted to or owned or leased by the Commonwealth for the use and benefit of inmates (61 Pa.CS Section 5902(e));
Buildings owned or leased by the Department of State (49 Pa.Code Section 61.3);
State parks unless you possess a PA License to Carry Firearms and are carrying the firearm concealed (17 Pa.Code Section 11.215);
Using a firearm is prohibited in state forests except in accordance with the Game and Wildlife Code or while target shooting at a location authorized by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) (17 Pa.Code Section 21.107(c));
Property owned or controlled by the PA Fish & Boat Commission, unless the person possesses a LTCF or is engaged in lawful hunting and trapping (58 Pa.Code Section 53.7);
Federal court facilities, buildings owned or leased by the Federal government, federal facilities*;
Property owned or leased by the US Postal Service;
Anywhere past airport security checkpoints;
Any private property where a landowner, tenant or person so authorized to maintain the property has asked you to leave because you are carrying a firearm, or where the property owner or tenant has placed signs or placards denoting that guns are forbidden (18 Pa.CS, Section 3503).
*A Federal facility is defined as any building owned or leased by the federal government where Federal employees are regularly present for performing their official duties. Federal Parks and Reserves are legal for possessing a firearm. Federal buildings located on Federal Parks and Reserves are still off-limits.
Q: I want to hunt with a revolver or a single shot style firearm. What must I do?
A: You have two options. If you are 18 or older and possess a PA Hunting License, Furtaking License, Fishing License, or a permit relating to hunting dogs; you may visit the County Treasurer's Office and apply for a Sportsman's Firearm Permit. That permit will allow its possessor to carry and hunt with a firearm. The permit is valid for a period of five years from the date of issue. However, if you are 21 years of age or older, you may apply for a PA License to Carry Firearms. If you possess a PA License to Carry Firearms, you do not need to possess a Sportsman's Firearm Permit. Keep in mind, if you are hunting with a firearm, you must have your Hunting License AND your PA License to Carry Firearms/Sportsman’s Firearms Permit on you at all times.
Q: I want to carry a firearm, such as an automatic-style pistol, for self-defense while hunting or even archery hunting. Am I allowed to do so?
A: Yes. Hunters who have a valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms are permitted to be in possession of a firearm (for self-defense purposes) while hunting. This is provided that you aren't hunting with a firearm that is prohibited under the Pennsylvania Game Law and that you have your PA License to Carry Firearms on you while carrying the firearm.
Q: What must I do to get a replacement License if my License was lost, stolen or accidentally destroyed?
A: You must contact the Philadelphia Police immediately to file a report. You will be required to report to the Gun Permit Unit with the incident report number and complete a form explaining what happened to your License. We will then revoke your old License and after a follow up investigation we will issue you a new one. The expiration date of the new License will be the same as the old License.
Q: I have never been convicted of a crime, but yet I have been denied a PA License to Carry Firearms. Why?
A: This could be a number of reasons. Sometimes, when performing the background check with the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS), your information may be similar to that of someone who was convicted of a crime. In this case, we would send you a partial refund of your application fee and a PICS Challenge Form. Once you would receive this form, you should complete it in its entirety and send it to the address listed on the form. If your challenge is successful, you will be sent a letter of approval which you would then bring to us. You will then complete another application and be issued a License.
If the reason is not due to a denial by PICS, it may be because the Police Department is aware of information which causes the Department to believe that you are not responsible enough to possess a PA License to Carry Firearms. Remember, the Police Commissioner, by law, may reject an application if he/she believes the applicant is a danger to public safety.
Q: I live in another state and want to be able to carry a firearm concealed in Pennsylvania. What must I do to obtain a Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms?
A: First, you must be 21 years of age or older and possess a valid license to carry firearms or similar permit issued to you by the state in which you reside. Then you must report in person to any Issuing Authority in Pennsylvania to apply for a Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms. You must remember to bring with you your driver's license from that state as well as your license to carry firearms or similar permit from that state.
Q: I just moved to Pennsylvania but I have a license/permit to carry firearms in my former state of residence and that state is a reciprocal state with Pennsylvania. Can I just use my license/permit until it expires and then apply for a PA License to Carry Firearms?
A: No. As soon as you become a Pennsylvania resident, your license/permit from your previous state of residence is no longer valid in Pennsylvania. Upon becoming a Pennsylvania resident, you are required to obtain a PA License to Carry Firearms if you wish to enjoy the benefits of carrying a concealed firearm or carrying a firearm in your vehicle. (Commonwealth v. McKown, 2013)
Q: Who does not need a Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms to be able to carry a firearm in Pennsylvania?
A: According to §6106(b) (relating to Firearms not to be carried without a license) of the Uniform Firearms Act, the following exceptions are granted in Pennsylvania:
Constables, sheriffs, prison or jail wardens, or their deputies, policemen of this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions, or other law-enforcement officers.
Members of the army, navy, marine corps, air force, or coast guard of the United States or of the National Guard or organized reserves when on duty.
The regularly enrolled members of any organization duly organized to purchase or receive such firearms from the United States or from this Commonwealth.
Any persons engaged in target shooting with a firearm, if such persons are at or are going to or from their places of assembly or target practice and if, while going to or from their places of assembly or target practice, the firearm is not loaded.
Officers or employees of the United States duly authorized to carry a concealed firearm.
Agents, messengers and other employees of common carriers, banks, or business firms, whose duties require them to protect moneys, valuables and other property in the discharge of such duties.
Any person engaged in the business of manufacturing, repairing, or dealing in firearms, or the agent or representative of any such person, having in his possession, using or carrying a firearm in the usual or ordinary course of such business.
Any person while carrying a firearm which is not loaded and is in a secure wrapper from the place of purchase to his home or place of business, or to a place of repair, sale or appraisal or back to his home or place of business, or in moving from one place of abode or business to another or from his home to a vacation or recreational home or dwelling or back, or to recover stolen property under §6111.1(b)(4) (relating to Pennsylvania State Police), or to a place of instruction intended to teach the safe handling, use or maintenance of firearms or back or to a location to which the person has been directed to relinquish firearms under 23 Pa. CS §6108 (relating to Relief) or back upon return of the relinquished firearm or to a licensed dealer’s place of business for relinquishment pursuant to 23 Pa. CS §6108.2 (relating to Relinquishment for consignment sale, lawful transfer or safekeeping) or back upon return of the relinquished firearm or to a location for safekeeping pursuant to 23 Pa. CS §6108.3 (relating to Relinquishment to third party for safekeeping) or back upon return of the relinquished firearm.
Persons licensed to hunt, take furbearers or fish in this Commonwealth, if such persons are actually hunting, taking furbearers or fishing or are going to the places where they desire to hunt, take furbearers or fish or returning from such places.
NOTE: For this exception to apply, a Sportsman's Firearm Permit must be obtained.
Persons training dogs, if such persons are actually training dogs during the regular training season.
NOTE: For this exception to apply, a Sportsman's Firearm Permit must be obtained.
Any person while carrying a firearm in any vehicle which the person possesses a valid and lawfully issued license for that firearm which has been issued under the laws of the United States or any other state.
A person who has a lawfully issued PA License to Carry Firearms and the License expired within six months prior to the date of arrest and that the individual is otherwise eligible for renewal of the License.
NOTE: This does not mean that you cannot be arrested for carrying a firearm without a License. It only means that you have a valid defense in Court if you are arrested.
Any person who is otherwise eligible to possess a firearm and who is operating a motor vehicle which is registered in the person’s name or the name of a spouse or parent and which contains a firearm for which a valid License to Carry Firearms has been issued to the spouse or parent owning the firearm.
A person lawfully engaged in the interstate transportation of a firearm as defined under 18 U.S.C §921(a)(3) (relating to Definitions) in compliance with 18 U.S.C. §926A (relating to Interstate transportation of firearms) .
Any person who possesses a valid and lawfully issued license or permit to carry a firearm which has been issued under the laws of another state, regardless of whether a reciprocity agreement exists between the Commonwealth and the state under §6109(k), provided:
(i) The state provides a reciprocal privilege for individuals licensed to carry firearms under §6109.
(ii) The Attorney General has determined that the firearm laws of the state are similar to the firearm laws of this Commonwealth.
A member of the United States Armed Forces or the Pennsylvania National Guard on Federal active duty and deployed overseas whose License is scheduled to expire during the period of deployment. The expiration date of the License will be extended until 90 days after the end of the deployment.