Under Pennsylvania law, firearm dealers must provide a record of the sale of handguns and certain other firearms to the Firearms Division of the Pennsylvania State Police (“PSP”), which maintains a permanent database of handgun sales.1 However, this database does not constitute a registry of gun ownership, and PSP maintains no record of long gun sales.2 Pennsylvania law specifically prevents any provision of its law from allowing any government or law enforcement agency to create a registry of firearm ownership.3 State law also requires PSP to destroy any application or record of sale of a long gun within 72 hours of the background check.4

In Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League v. Rendell, 860 A.2d 10 (Pa. 2004), the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania interpreted these provisions to permit PSP to maintain a database of the purchasers of handguns, but not of long guns.5

In addition, Pennsylvania’s law regarding domestic violence contains a similar provision, stating that it does not allow any person or entity to create a registry of firearm ownership, although information may be retained to ensure compliance with these statutes and to document the return of firearms to persons no longer subject to protective orders.6 Such information is not subject to public disclosure.

See the section entitled Retention of Sales / Background Check Records in Pennsylvania for further information about sales reporting requirements.

See our Registration of Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(b). ⤴︎
  2. Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League v. Rendell, 860 A.2d 10, 16 (Pa. 2004). ⤴︎
  3. Pursuant to 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111.4, “nothing in this chapter shall be construed to allow any government or law enforcement agency or any agent thereof to create, maintain or operate any registry of firearm ownership” within Pennsylvania. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(b)(1.1)(v), relating to background checks for firearm transfers, provides that “no information on the application/record of sale provided pursuant to this subsection shall be retained as precluded by section 6111.4…by the Pennsylvania State Police either through retention of the application/record of sale or by entering the information onto a computer.” ⤴︎
  4. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(b)(1.1)(v). ⤴︎
  5. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111(b)(1.1)(v)’s requirement that applications and records of sale of long guns be destroyed within 72 hours does not apply to applications and records of sale of handguns. Rendell, 860 A.2d at 18. The database maintained by the PSP did not constitute a registry of firearm ownership because it only contained applications and records of sale. Id. at 22. ⤴︎
  6. 23 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6108.4 states that nothing in 23 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. §§ 6101-6122 (regarding domestic violence) shall be construed to allow any person or entity to create, maintain or operate a database or registry of firearm ownership. ⤴︎