Pennsylvania has enacted modest gun safety laws in recent years and has expanded background checks for those wanting to buy or sell a gun in Pennsylvania. The state has moderate laws on firearms when compared to other neighboring states like New York, which has some of the toughest regulations on firearms in the nation. For those looking to buy, sell or transfer a gun, being informed of both state and federal law is helpful in order to make a smooth transaction and be compliant with state and federal regulations.
This information is from the Pennsylvania General Assembly official website and the Pennsylvania State Police official website.
What are the Requirements to Purchase a Firearm in Pennsylvania?
In order to purchase a firearm legally, the buyer must be 18 years old to purchase rifles, shotguns and ammunition. Buyers looking to purchase handguns must be at least 21 years old. No permits or registration are required to own a firearm in the state.
Anyone purchasing a firearm from a licensed firearms dealer must complete a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms form 4473 (firearms transaction form). The firearms transaction form 4473 will be maintained by the dealer. A firearms purchaser must, under the permanent provisions of the Federal Brady Law, also undergo a National Instant Criminal Background Check System check, which will be performed by the firearms dealer.
The Pennsylvania State Police has additionally implemented it’s Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS). This system provides instant access to background records on an individual to determine if the person is eligible to purchase a firearm or acquire a license to carry a firearm in the state.
This check will indicate to the dealer whether the purchaser’s background allows for the person to complete the purchase of the firearm. If the check disallows the sale for no warranted reason, there is an appeal process the purchaser can pursue to receive the necessary clearance to complete the purchase.
Additionally, there is a required wait time for buyers purchasing at federally licensed dealers. Here is the legal text:
- 6111. Sale or transfer of firearms.
(a) Time and manner of delivery.–
(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), no seller shall deliver a firearm to the purchaser or transferee thereof until 48 hours shall have elapsed from the time of the application for the purchase thereof, and, when delivered, the firearm shall be securely wrapped and shall be unloaded.
(2) Thirty days after publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin that the Instantaneous Criminal History Records Check System has been established in accordance with the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (Public Law 103-159, 18 U.S.C. § 921 et seq.), no seller shall deliver a firearm to the purchaser thereof until the provisions of this section have been satisfied, and, when delivered, the firearm shall be securely wrapped and shall be unloaded.
How to Conduct a Private Sale?
In Pennsylvania, a background check is required before the transaction of a handgun can be completed. Pennsylvania residents can transfer a long gun to another resident of the state without a background check if the individual is not prohibited from owning a firearm.
Here is the legal text:
- 6111. Sale or transfer of firearms.
(c) Duty of other persons.–Any person who is not a licensed importer, manufacturer or dealer and who desires to sell or transfer a firearm to another unlicensed person shall do so only upon the place of business of a licensed importer, manufacturer, dealer or county sheriff’s office, the latter of whom shall follow the procedure set forth in this section as if he were the seller of the firearm. The provisions of this section shall not apply to transfers between spouses or to transfers between a parent and child or to transfers between grandparent and grandchild.
Pennsylvania Firearm Ownership Restrictions
The following disqualifies a person from buying a gun in Pennsylvania
- a fugitive from justice;
- has been convicted of an offense under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act (P.L. 233, No. 64) punishable by imprisonment exceeding two years; or
- has been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or controlled substance as provided in 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802 (relating to driving under influence of alcohol or controlled substance) or the former 75 Pa.C.S. § 3731, on three or more separate occasions within a five-year period; or (Note: Depending on the grade of the offense, certain DUI offenses could be prohibiting under Federal law upon the first conviction.)
- has been adjudicated as an incompetent or who has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution for treatment under § 302, 303, or 304 under the Mental Health Procedures Act (P.L. 817, No. 143); or
- is an alien, is illegally or unlawfully in the United States; or 6. is the subject of an active protection from abuse order issued pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 6108, relating to relief, which order provides for the relinquishment of firearms; or
- was adjudicated delinquent (with conditions specified in the UFA). With the exception of crimes committed under sections 2502, 2503, 2702, 2703, 2704, 2901, 3121, 3123, 3301, 3502, 3701, and 3923, this prohibition may terminate 15 years after the last applicable delinquent adjudication or upon the person reaching the age of 30, whichever is earlier.
- was adjudicated delinquent by a court pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. § 6341 or under any equivalent Federal statute or statute of any other state as a result of conduct which if committed by an adult would constitute an offense enumerated in 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105(b) with the exception of those crimes set forth in paragraph 7. This prohibition shall terminate 15 years after the last applicable delinquent adjudication or upon the person reaching the age of 30, whichever is earlier.
- is prohibited from possessing or acquiring a firearm under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9) (relating to unlawful acts) who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence by a person in any of the following relationships: (i) the current or former spouse, parent or guardian of the victim; (ii) a person with whom the victim shares a child in common; (iii) a person who cohabits with or has cohabited with the victim as a spouse, parent or guardian; or (iv) a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent or guardian of the victim; then the relationship need not be an element of the offense to meet the requirements of this paragraph.
FEDERAL DISQUALIFICATION CATEGORIES
- Conviction (felony or misdemeanor) where the crime has a maximum imprisonment term exceeding 1 year. (even if a buyer did not receive actual imprisonment exceeding 1 year)
- Warrant (felony or out-of-state misdemeanor).
- Felony pre-trial release.
- Misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence restraining/stalking/protection order mental health adjudication or commitment.
- Unlawful use or addicted to a controlled substance (including marijuana).
- Dishonorable discharge from the armed forces.
- Renounced U.S. citizenship.
- Illegal alien.
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