Gun violence is a very real issue in the state of Pennsylvania. As recently as early October, State Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159 of Chester spoke to the community about gun violence and the possible solutions to the growing problem. Although gun violence is a serious issue, going through the proper channels to obtain a legal license to carry a firearm may curb gun violence. The process of applying for a gun license can weed out individuals who are unfit to carry a gun such as convicted felons or the mentally incompetent.

One of the most commonly charged gun crimes in Pennsylvania is the possession of a prohibited weapon, like a gun or firearm. Under Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute Title 18 § 908, a person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree when he possesses any offensive weapon such as a firearm or gun. If charged a person can be convicted of a misdemeanor of the first degree, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

To obtain a license to carry a firearm there are certain guidelines that must be met.  First and foremost, a person must be 21 years of age and a resident of Chester County in order to obtain license to carry a firearm in Chester County. An individual must complete an application and return it in person to the Chester County Sheriff’s Office, provide two character references and provide proper identification. Identification that is acceptable includes a Pennsylvania driver’s license with a current address and photo or a Pennsylvania non-driver’s identification card that has a current photo and current Chester County address.

A person who is not a US citizen is allowed to apply for and obtain a license to carry a firearm. Non US citizens must present their current immigration card and the last three months of utility bills that show a current address.

After applying for a license to carry a firearm, it may take up to 45 days for approval, which is mandated by law. After an individual has been approved, the license will be sent via mail. If an individual has been denied, they will be notified by mail and a portion of the $20 application fee will be returned.  Some reasons a person could be denied a license to carry could include, a prior felony conviction, a prior conviction for a drug offense, a history of drug or alcohol use, or a mental health disorder that would deem an individual incompetent.

A license to carry a firearm is valid for five (5) years and upon expiration it must be renewed. Pennsylvania does not require firearms to be registered and a valid firearm license is good for any firearm owned by an individual.

Gun licensing may not be the cure-all for firearm violence in Pennsylvania but it is a start towards weeding out the individuals who are unfit to carry a gun. Additionally, obtaining a license to carry a firearm in can potentially prevent the possibility of being charged with possession of a prohibited weapon in West Chester. However, if you find yourself facing a charge for a gun crime in Pennsylvania, an experienced gun crime attorney in West Chester can help you in your defense against such a serious offense. A good criminal defense lawyer will examine your case closely and come up with the best defense possible to increase your chances of a favorable outcome regarding your particular circumstance.

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