What You Need to Know About Getting a Firearm in PA
Most people that do not have criminal backgrounds do not associate criminal conduct with applying for a gun permit or attempting to obtain a firearm through the proper legal channels.
However, depending on an individual’s background, serious penalties and criminal prosecution could result simply by filling out the application.
Always consult an attorney prior to purchasing, transferring or obtaining a firearm and/or applying for a license to carry.
Applying for a License to Carry at the Allegheny County’s Sheriff’s Office
The application for a permit to carry a concealed weapon asks a series of “yes” or “no” questions. The Sheriff has a right to deny license to any applicant who falls into one of the below listed categories.
Additionally, an applicant can be criminally charged under 18 Pa.C.S.A. 4903—Unsworn Falsification to Authorities if an applicant indicates “no” in connection with, but not limited to the following areas:
- An individual whose character and reputation is such that the individual would be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety;
- An individual who has been convicted of an offense under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act;
- An individual convicted of a crime of violence;
- An individual who, within the past ten years, has been adjudicated delinquent for a crime of violence or for an offense under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act;
- An individual who is not of sound mind or who has ever been committed (involuntarily) to a mental institution;
- An individual who is addicted to or is an unlawful user of marijuana or a stimulant, depressant or narcotic drug;
- An individual who is a habitual drunkard;
- An individual who is charged with or has been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year (whether or not you served one year or not);
- A resident of another state who does not possess a current license issued by the state;
- An illegal alien;
- An individual who has been discharged from the armed forces of the United States under dishonorable conditions; and,
- An individual who is a fugitive from justice.
If you are unsure about whether the following categories apply to you, always consult an experienced criminal attorney prior to submitting an application for license to carry a firearm.
Once an application for a license to carry a firearm has been filed, the Sheriff’s Office has 45 days in which to complete a background investigation and notify the applicant as to whether a license will be issued. Once issued, the license is valid for a period of five years.
Obtaining a Firearm by Transfer, Purchase or Otherwise.
Under Pa.C.S.A. 6111—Sale or Transfer of Firearms, an individual can be criminally charged for attempting to obtain a firearm if not eligible to do so.
Although the law requires an individual to knowingly and intentionally make a materially false statement in an attempt to obtain a firearm, oftentimes this can be alleged simply by indicating answers incorrectly on the application forms (whether by mistake, accident or otherwise).
An individual can be ineligible from lawfully obtaining a firearm for a wide range of reasons, including, but not limited to, criminal history (however long ago), active warrants, mental state, involuntary commitment to a psychiatric facility (at any age), and a juvenile criminal record.
If you have any question as to your eligibility to purchase, transfer and/or obtain a firearm—always consult an attorney prior to completing and submitting the necessary application and corresponding documentation.