State Law Background
Among other things, Pennsylvania:
- Requires a background check prior to the unlicensed sale of a handgun;
- Conducts its own background checks when licensed dealers sell firearms;
- Requires firearm dealers to obtain a state license;
- Prohibits straw purchases, a common source of illegally trafficked firearms, and has a “Straw Purchaser Education Program”;
- Maintains a state database of information regarding the sale handguns and certain other types of firearms;
- Requires licensed dealers to include locking devices when transferring handguns or short-barreled rifles or shotguns.
However, Pennsylvania does not:
- Require a background check when an unlicensed person sells a rifle or shotgun;
- Require gun owners to report if their guns are lost or stolen;
- Allow courts to issue protective orders to prevent dangerous people other than domestic abusers from having access to guns;
- Have laws to prevent children or other unauthorized people from having easy access to unlocked firearms;
- Allow local governments to regulate firearms or ammunition;
- Prohibit the transfer or possession of assault weapons, 50 caliber rifles or large capacity ammunition magazines;
- Require firearm owners to obtain a license;
- Require the registration of firearms;
- Regulate ammunition sales; or
- Provide local law enforcement with discretion to deny a license to carry firearms.
In 2016, Pennsylvania had the 20th lowest gun death rate per capita among the states, with 1,555 gun deaths for that year alone. Pennsylvania had the 19th lowest rate of crime gun exports among the states in 2016—meaning that crime guns originally sold in Pennsylvania were recovered after being used in crimes in other states at the 19th lowest rate among the states. However, Pennsylvania still exports guns used in crime at nearly twice the rate at which it imports them, making Pennsylvania a net exporter of guns used in crime.
Pennsylvania Firearms Laws
For details about specific firearms laws in Pennsylvania, choose a topic below, or see all of the firearms laws in this state.