See our Concealed Carry policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
Pennsylvania law penalizes any person who, without a license, carries a firearm in any vehicle or concealed on or about his or her person, other than at his or her home or business.1
Pennsylvania is a “shall issue” state, meaning that local law enforcement must issue a license to carry a firearm if the applicant meets certain qualifications. Law enforcement must issue a license “if, after an investigation not to exceed 45 days, it appears that the applicant is an individual concerning whom no good cause exists to deny the license.”2 The applicant must state a reason for seeking the license, which may include self-defense, employment, hunting, target shooting, gun collecting, or “another proper reason.”3 A license will be denied if the applicant:
- Is not 21 years of age;
- Has a character and reputation indicating the applicant would be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety;
- Has been convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent in the past ten years for, any offense under The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act (35 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 780-101 et seq.);
- Does not qualify to possess a firearm under Pennsylvania law or has been convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent in the past ten years for, any of the crimes which disqualify individuals from firearm possession under Pennsylvania law (see the Pennsylvania Background Checks and Prohibited Persons in Pennsylvania sections for more information);
- Is not of sound mind or has ever been committed to a mental institution;
- Is addicted to or an unlawful user of marijuana or a stimulant, depressant or narcotic drug;
- Is a habitual drunkard;
- Has been charged with, or convicted of, a crime punishable by more than one year of imprisonment;
- Is an undocumented alien;
- Has been dishonorably discharged from the armed forces;
- Is a fugitive from justice;
- Is otherwise prohibited from possessing, using, manufacturing, controlling, purchasing, selling, or transferring a firearm as provided by Pennsylvania law; or
- Is prohibited from possessing or acquiring a firearm under the United States Code.4
The license may be revoked by the issuing authority for “good cause,” which exists where, among other things, the license holder falls into any of the categories listed above.5
Firearm Safety Training
Pennsylvania law does not require applicants for a license to carry a firearm to undergo firearm safety training or otherwise demonstrate knowledge of firearms safety.
Duration & Renewal
A Pennsylvania license to carry a firearm is valid for up to five years.6
Disclosure or Use of Information
Pennsylvania does not allow personal application or license information of license holders to be made public. All information provided by the license applicant, including but not limited to his or her name or identity, “shall be confidential and not subject to public disclosure.”7
Pennsylvania law allows the state Attorney General to enter into agreements with other states to honor their concealed weapons permits in Pennsylvania.8 The law requires the Attorney General to annually contact any other state that does not have a reciprocity agreement with Pennsylvania to determine if:
- The state will negotiate a reciprocity agreement;
- A licensee may carry a concealed firearm in that state; or
- A licensee may apply for a license or permit to carry a firearm issued by the state.9
The Attorney General shall maintain a current list of states with any of the above, and the list shall be posted on the Internet, provided to the Pennsylvania State Police and made available to the public upon request. For the current list of such states, see the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General web site.
Pennsylvania law also provides an exception to the requirement of a license to carry a firearm for any person who possesses a valid and lawfully issued license or permit to carry a firearm under the laws of another state, regardless of whether a reciprocity agreement exists, if the state provides a reciprocal privilege for individuals licensed to carry firearms under Pennsylvania law, and the Attorney General has determined that the firearm laws of the state are similar to the firearm laws of Pennsylvania.10
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6106(a)(1). If the offender is otherwise eligible for a license, however, the penalty is less severe. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6106(a)(2). Please see the Guns in Vehicles section for a list of exceptions.
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6109(e).
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6109(c).
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6109.
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6109(i). Additional application and background check requirements, as well as license suspension and disqualification information, are detailed under 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6109 and 37 Pa. Code §§ 33.114, 33.115, 33.119. In 2008, Pennsylvania enacted a law allowing local law enforcement to issue a “temporary emergency license to carry a concealed firearm,” which is valid for 45 days. See 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6109(m.1). To obtain a temporary license, a person must submit evidence of imminent danger to himself or herself or his or her minor child, and a sworn affidavit attesting that he or she is eligible for a license to carry a firearm and not legally prohibited from possessing a firearm. The evidence of imminent danger must take the form of a police report or other document prepared by a law enforcement officer describing facts that give rise to the person’s reasonable fear of criminal attack. The sheriff must conduct a background check prior to issuing a temporary license. Prior to the expiration of the temporary license, if it is not revoked, the sheriff must issue a regular license to carry a firearm to the person. Id.
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6109(f); 37 Pa. Code § 33.115(d). Renewal provisions can be found under 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6109(f)(2). An exception exists to the requirement of a license to carry a firearm for a person whose license expired within the previous six months and who is otherwise eligible for renewal. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6106(b)(12).
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(i); see also 37 Pa. Code § 33.103.
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6109(k).
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6109(m).
- 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6106(b)(15).