Posted on January 1, 2015
Among other things, Pennsylvania:
- Requires a background check prior to the private sale of a handgun;
- Conducts its own background checks for firearm sales;
- Requires firearm dealers to obtain a state license;
- Prohibits straw purchases, a common source of illegally trafficked firearms, and has a “Straw Purchase Purchase Education Program”;
- Maintains a state database of information regarding the sale handguns and certain other types of firearms;
- Requires licensed dealers to include locking devices when transferring handguns or short-barreled rifles or shotguns.
However, Pennsylvania does not:
- Prohibit the transfer or possession of assault weapons, 50 caliber rifles or large capacity ammunition magazines;
- Require firearm owners to obtain a license;
- Require the registration of firearms;
- Limit the number of firearms that may be purchased at one time;
- Impose a waiting period on firearm purchases;
- Regulate unsafe handguns;
- Regulate ammunition sales;
- Allow local governments to regulate firearms or ammunition;
- Have laws to prevent children from having easy access to unlocked firearms; or
- Provide local law enforcement with discretion to deny a license to carry firearms.
In 2012, Pennsylvania ranked 27th in terms of gun deaths per capita among the states, with 1,453 gun deaths for that year alone. Pennsylvania had the 30th highest rate of crime gun exports among the states in 2009—meaning that crime guns originally sold in Pennsylvania were recovered after being used in crimes in other states at the 30th highest rate among the states. Based on data published by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, in every year from 2006 through 2009, Pennsylvania was one of the top ten interstate suppliers of crime guns. Pennsylvania is also the top interstate supplier of crime guns to Delaware and New Jersey.
We are currently in the process of updating this page to reflect laws enacted in 2015. In the meantime, please contact the Law Center directly for questions about new 2015 laws.
Pennsylvania Firearms Laws
For details about specific firearms laws in Pennsylvania, choose a topic below, or see all of the firearms laws in this state.