What Gun Laws Apply in Philadelphia but Not in Rural Pennsylvania?
If you own, carry, or use a gun in Philadelphia or anywhere in Pennsylvania, it is essential to be aware of Pennsylvania gun laws and how you can comply with them. Not being aware of the law is not an acceptable excuse for violating it, and inadvertent violations can result in serious criminal penalties, including substantial fines and even jail time.
Fortunately, if you are facing gun-related charges, a Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer can help you understand what your options are and work to minimize their impact on your life. Call us today to schedule a free case evaluation with attorney Lauren Wimmer. Your freedom and future are too important to leave to chance.
Federal Gun Laws
The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the rights of Americans to keep and bear arms. However, the United States government restricts the ownership and sale of some firearms and has enacted other laws regarding guns. Under these laws, specific individuals may not own a firearm, including:
- Immigrants without legal status
- Veterans who left the military with a dishonorable discharge
- Anyone with a permanent restraining order
- Anyone convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
- Anyone who has been committed to any mental institution
In addition, federal law requires that licensed gun dealers perform a background check through the FBI’s database to ensure the purchaser is not prohibited from owning a gun.
What Gun Laws Apply to the State of Pennsylvania?
The Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act is a comprehensive list of gun laws that covers the entire state. Under this act, individuals who have a previous conviction of a violent crime, who are declared mentally ill by a court, and those who are subject to an active protection from abuse order cannot purchase a handgun. Other significant points of the Act include:
- Firearm dealers must conduct a background check on individuals who want to purchase a handgun
- All handgun sales must go through a licensed seller or the local county sheriff’s office
- Individuals found guilty of domestic abuse must surrender their weapons within 24 hours
- No law addressing the temporary removal of firearms from someone who poses a risk to themselves or others, known as an Extreme Risk Protection Order
- A license is not required for gun ownership
- Individuals who have three or more driving under the influence (DUI) conviction in a period of five years are prohibited from purchasing firearms, although they can still possess a gun
- Firearm registries are prohibited by any government or law agency
- The state controls open carry and concealed gun laws, with one exception in Philadelphia
- It is legal to open carry a gun without a permit
- Assault weapons are not prohibited
- There is no training requirement for a concealed carry permit, but applicants must be a minimum of 21 years of age
- It is illegal to possess a firearm which has an obliterated or altered manufacture’s serial number
What Gun Laws Apply to Philadelphia?
Being in the state of Pennsylvania, the City of Philadelphia is beholden to the gun laws enacted by the state legislature. Under the Uniform Firearms Act, Philadelphia or any other city in the state must not create their own gun laws or restrictions. They cannot pass any laws regarding the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition, or ammunition components when guns are carried for a lawful reason in a lawful manner. However, in Philadelphia, individuals must have a permit to carry a firearm or transport one in a vehicle.
In 1993, the Philadelphia City Council passed a bill prohibiting assault-style weapons. In response, the state passed a law to repeal the ban, which was also struck down by the State Supreme Court. Again in 2008, Philadelphia enacted city ordinances that banned assault weapons and prevented individuals from purchasing more than one handgun per month. Just as they did the previous decade, the Commonwealth Court struck them down again.
What Gun Laws Apply in Philadelphia but Not in Rural PA?
Based on the Pennsylvania gun laws and those of the City of Philadelphia, there is one gun law that applies in Philadelphia but not in rural Pennsylvania. This is the law that requires individuals in Philadelphia to have a permit to carry or transport a firearm. Furthermore, guns are not permitted in Philadelphia city parks in addition to places mandated by the state such as schools, courthouses, and school buses.
Consequences for Convictions of Gun Charges
Gun and firearm charges are taken very seriously in the state of Pennsylvania. Gun charges vary depending on several different circumstances, such as whether you are a first-time offender or you had a loaded gun when you were arrested. If convicted, you may face several years in prison and fines of several thousand dollars. You may also lose your rights to own or purchase firearms. Consider the following charges and their consequences:
- Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit (Felony): As many as seven years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines
- Carrying a firearm with the intent to commit a crime (Misdemeanor): As many as five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines
- Illegally providing a firearm to a minor (Felony): As many as seven years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines
- Possession of body piercing armor (Felony): As many as seven years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines
- Removing identification numbers from a firearm (Felony): As many as ten years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines
How a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
No matter how serious your charges are, it is always a good idea to secure the representation of a skilled Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer. Your attorney can help you understand Pennsylvania’s gun laws, the charges against you, and your options within the criminal justice system.
If you are facing gun charges, time is of the essence. To schedule your legal consultation, call Wimmer Criminal Defense Law today at 215-712-1212 or use our convenient online contact form.