Your Second Amendment right to bear arms is a federal right under the U.S. Constitution. However, gun laws can be complex due to each state’s individual interpretation of these laws. Pennsylvania citizens have the right to own and purchase firearms when they meet specific requirements.

Pennsylvania also allows for concealed carry licenses, although there are some restrictions. However, if you are prohibited from owning a gun and are caught with one in your possession, you could face harsh criminal consequences.

Pennsylvania’s Gun Laws

According to 18 Pa.C.S. 6105, some individuals are prohibited from possessing or purchasing firearms in Pennsylvania. Generally, anyone convicted of a violent criminal offense, such as burglary, manslaughter, murder, rape, or robbery, may be prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm.

Those with drug convictions may also be prohibited from owning a gun. Additionally, individuals with three or more DUI convictions over five years are also restricted from firearm possession.

Other parties who may be prohibited from buying or possessing a firearm include:

  • Anyone who has been declared incompetent under the Mental Health Procedures Act
  • Anyone who is a fugitive from justice
  • Individuals who are not U.S. citizens
  • Anyone who has had a protection from abuse order taken out against them

Can You Carry a Gun in a Gun-Free Zone?

According to Pennsylvania Code § 6106, most state residents are required to have a license to carry concealed weapons. However, there some individuals don’t need a license, such as law enforcement officials, members of the United States military, and firearm safety professionals.

In gun-free zones, even someone who has a license to carry a concealed firearm may be prohibited from carrying a firearm within these areas. There are some areas where carrying concealed weapons in Pennsylvania is restricted, including:

  • Courthouses
  • Public schools
  • School buses
  • Security areas within an airport
  • Mental hospitals
  • Correctional facilities and detention centers
  • Any other area where firearms may be prohibited by local, state, or federal law

Anyone carrying a gun in any of the gun-free zones described above may face criminal charges for possessing a firearm in a restricted location.

What Are the Penalties for Violating Pennsylvania’s Gun Laws?

If you are found guilty of violating Pennsylvania’s firearm possession laws, you could face severe consequences. Some of the more common penalties include:

  • A maximum of one year in prison and fines as high as $2500 if you are convicted of a third-degree misdemeanor
  • A maximum of two years in prison and fines as high as $5000 if you are convicted of a second-degree misdemeanor
  • A maximum of five years in a state prison and fines up to $10,000 if you are convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor
  • A maximum of 10 years in a state prison and fines as high as $10,000 if you are convicted of a second-degree felony
  • A maximum of 20 years in state prison and fines up to $25,000 if you are convicted of a first-degree felony

Are there Defenses Against Gun Law Violations?

When you have been accused of unlawfully possessing a firearm, several potential defenses could be used to challenge the allegations against you. Some of these include:

  • The defendant did not have control over the firearm
  • The defendant did not have access to the firearm
  • The defendant was never convicted of a felony offense
  • The firearm was not the defendant’s
  • The defendant had no knowledge that the gun was in their possession
  • The defendant was not guilty of the felony they were accused of
  • The defendant is not currently on probation

If I’ve Been Denied a Gun License, Can I Get it Back?

Under federal law, firearm prohibition rights are not eligible for restoration. However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that if a person’s civil rights are restored, their firearm rights can also be restored. Some parties who may be eligible for the restoration of their firearm rights include:

  • People who have previously had restraining orders taken out against them
  • Individuals who were convicted of non-violent misdemeanors
  • Those who have been convicted of non-violent felonies

If you hope to restore your firearm rights, one of the best ways to do so is to get your judicial record expunged or apply for and receive a pardon from Pennsylvania’s governor. Your attorney can analyze your legal options to best approach the restoration of your gun rights.

Call a Chester County Gun Rights Lawyer Today

If you have been accused of unlawful possession of a firearm, or if you are hoping to restore your lost gun rights, you need an experienced Chester County gun rights attorney by your side.

Contact our team at Skinner Law Firm to get started on your case as soon as today. Schedule your confidential consultation at 610-436-1410 or through our quick contact form.

Article Author

Michael J. Skinner, the founder of Skinner Law Firm LLC, is a former prosecutor with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.

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