Pennsylvania is a shall-issue state with concealed weapons permits issued at the county level by the sheriff’s office or if a resident of a city of the first class, with the chief of police of that city.
There is no permit required to purchase firearms and although there is no comprehensive firearms registration, the state police maintain a database of all handgun buyers. Private-party transfers of handguns must be conducted through a licensed dealer or at a county sheriff’s office, and a background check is required. These requirements do not apply to transfers between spouses, parents and children, or grandparents and grandchildren.
Open carry is legal in Pennsylvania for anyone 18 or older who is legally allowed to possess a firearm. Be aware that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court a decision in Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Darren Montgomery, 234 A.3d 523 (PA 2020), holding that sometimes a visible firearm is a concealed firearm. This decision has created uncertainty about the definition of open carry. You will need a Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms (LCF) or a permit/license from a state with which PA has reciprocity in order to open or conceal carry in a vehicle and to open carry in the city of Philadelphia. Some areas are off-limits, including schools and courthouses.
Concealed carry is legal for residents with an LCF and for non-residents with a license/permit that Pennsylvania honors. Pennsylvania LCFs are issued to residents and non-residents that are at least 21 years old. Non-residents must already have a permit to carry in their home state in order to obtain a Pennsylvania permit. There is no training requirement. In terms of reciprocity, Pennsylvania only honors resident CCW licenses from states with which it has a reciprocity agreement. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic,Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms (LCF) holders whose LCF expired on March 19, 2020 or later will be considered to have a valid license until March 31, 2021.
Pennsylvania is a Castle Doctrine state and has a “stand your ground” law. There is no duty to retreat in your residence or any place where you have a legal right to be if confronted with a deadly weapon or an object that appears to be one. Under the law, the use of force against another person is justifiable if the person who acts in self-defense believes that the use of force is: “immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself [or herself] against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion.”
Use of Force for the Protection of Property The use of force is justifiable when the actor believes that such force is immediately necessary:
To prevent or terminate an unlawful entry or other trespass upon land or the unlawful carrying away of tangible movable property; or
To effect an entry or re-entry upon land or to retake tangible movable property.
Use of Force in Self-Protection or the Protection of Others The use of force is justifiable when the actor believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself or herself or a third party against the use of unlawful force. Deadly force is only justifiable if an actor believes it is necessary to protect one’s self or a third party against death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping or sexual assault. However, such force is not justified if the actor knows that he or she can avoid the necessity of using such force with complete safety by retreating; except the actor is not obliged to retreat from his or her dwelling or place of work, unless he or she was the initial aggressor or is assailed in the place of work by another person whose place of work the actor knows it to be.
An actor is presumed to have a reasonable belief that deadly force is immediately necessary to protect himself or herself against death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping or sexual intercourse compelled by force or threat if both of the following conditions exist:
The person against whom the force is used is in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or has unlawfully and forcefully entered and is present within, a dwelling, residence or occupied vehicle; or
The person against whom the force is used is or is attempting to unlawfully and forcefully remove another against that other’s will from the dwelling, residence or occupied vehicle.
If Pennsylvania requires a permit to carry a concealed firearm, how are those permits issued?
Pennsylvania is a shall-issue state.
Minimum Age for Concealed Carry?
What is the minimum age in Pennsylvania to get a concealed carry permit?
The minimum age to concealed carry in Pennsylvania is 21 years old.
Weapons Other Than Handguns Allowed?
Can you concealed carry weapons other than handguns in Pennsylvania with a concealed carry permit (or under permitless carry if applicable)?
Yes. Pennsylvania concealed carry includes any pistol or revolver with a barrel length less than 15 inches, any shotgun with a barrel length less than 18 inches or any rifle with a barrel length less than 16 inches, or any pistol, revolver, rifle or shotgun with an overall length of less than 26 inches. The barrel length of a firearm shall be determined by measuring from the muzzle of the barrel to the face of the closed action, bolt or cylinder, whichever is applicable.
Tasers or Stun Guns?
Is it legal to own a taser or stun gun in Pennsylvania?
Yes. Stun guns and Tasers are legal to purchase and possess without a permit for anyone legally entitled to carry a firearm. A person may possess and use an electric or electronic incapacitation device in the exercise of reasonable force in defense of the person or the person's property pursuant to Chapter 5 (relating to general principles of justification) if the electric or electronic incapacitation device is labeled with or accompanied by clearly written instructions as to its use and the damages involved in its use.
Is it legal to buy or use chemical spray/pepper spray in Pennsylvania?
Yes. There is no statute prohibiting the purchase or use of pepper spray in Pennsylvania.
MAGAZINE LIMITS FOR HANDGUNS?
Does Pennsylvania have magazine capacity restrictions for handguns?
No. The Allegheny Court of Common Pleas decided against the City of Pittsburgh in Anderson v. City of Pittsburgh. The court found that Pittsburgh's attempt to impose local gun control measures was a clear violation of state preemption law.
Does Pennsylvania have ammunition restrictions?
Yes. It is illegal for any person to possess KTW teflon-coated bullets or other armor-piercing ammunition with the intent to use the ammunition in a crime.
Can you carry a concealed handgun in a vehicle in Pennsylvania?
Yes, with a LCF or permit from a state with which PA has reciprocity. There are a number of exceptions identified in § 6106(b) where firearms may be carried either loaded or transported unloaded with ammunition stored in a separate container by individuals without a permit. Exceptions include law enforcement officers, on-duty members of the military as well as a number of others.
Can you carry a concealed firearm in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol in Pennsylvania?
Yes, there is no statute making it illegal to concealed carry with a LCF or permit from a state with which PA has reciprocity, unless posted.
Carry/Possess at a hotel?
Can you carry or possess a firearm on hotel property in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania statutes don't specifically address firearms at hotels. Please note that each hotel develops their own policies and the individual hotel should be contacted to inquire about it's concealed carry policy. See theHandguns at Hotels pagefor additional information.
Store in a Vehicle in an Employee Parking Lot?
Does Pennsylvania have laws relating to storing firearms in private vehicles in an employee parking lot?
Are "No Weapons Allowed" signs enforced in Pennsylvania? If yes, violating the sign would be considered to be a crime. If no, violating the sign would not be considered a criminal offense.
No. Pennsylvania does not recognize "No Weapons" signs.
Does Pennsylvania have preemption laws related to concealed carry (i.e. Does state law supersede local laws regarding the possession of handguns)?
Yes. The authority to regulate firearms is reserved to the state, except local municipalities may regulate the discharge of firearms within the cities boundaries. This has been reinforced by the Allegheny Court of Common Pleas decision against the City of Pittsburgh in Anderson v. City of Pittsburgh. The court found that Pittsburgh's attempt to impose local gun control measures was a clear violation of state preemption law.
No definition of brandishing was found in Pennsylvania law. However, a person is guilty of disorderly conduct if, with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, he engages in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior; or creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose of the actor.
Does Pennsylvania have laws regarding carrying a concealed firearm while using alcohol or drugs?
Not addressed in state statutes.
As a responsibly armed American, regardless of the laws in your state, it is unwise to carry while under the influence of any substance that could impair your judgement, slow your reaction times, or impact your decision-making abilities. Any decision you make while carrying a firearm could have life-altering consequences.
Does Pennsylvania issue concealed carry permits to non-residents?
Yes. Non-residents who possess a current license or permit or similar document to carry a firearm issued by their home state (if a license is provided for by the laws of that state) may apply for a non-resident permit.
PUBLIC ACCESS TO CONCEALED CARRY REGISTRY?
Does Pennsylvania allow the public to access concealed carry registry information through public records law?
No. The Pennsylvania concealed carry registry is not accessible to the public.
Is a permit required to purchase a handgun in Pennsylvania?
No. Pennsylvania does not require a special permit at time of handgun purchase.
Background Checks for Private Gun Sales? Exceptions?
Are background checks required for private gun sales in Pennsylvania? Are there exceptions?
Yes. Private party transfers of handguns must be conducted through a licensed dealer or at a county sheriff’s office. A background check is required. These requirements do not apply to transfers between spouses, parents and children or grandparents and grandchildren.
Pennsylvania recognizes concealed carry licenses issued by states for which they have reciprocity agreements without applying for a separate Pennsylvania concealed carry license – if the concealed carry license holder is a resident of that state and 21 years of age or older. Residents must have a Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms (LCF) in order to carry in the state.
Anyone who can legally possess a firearm may carry it concealed in permitless carry states without a permit/license. The minimum age* for permitless carry is shown. Check each state’s page for more information and any restrictions that may apply.
*PC-18 = permitless carry if at least 18 years old
*PC-21 = permitless carry if at least 21 years old
Be a resident of the county the application is filed it for at least 90 days, or if from another state, possess a permit/license from that state;
Not have a character and reputation indicating the applicant would be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety;
Not have been convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent in the past 10 years for, any offense under The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act;
Qualify to possess a firearm under Pennsylvania law and must not have been convicted of, or adjudicated delinquent in the past 10 years for, any of the crimes which disqualify individuals from firearm possession under Pennsylvania law;
Be of sound mind and never have been committed to a mental institution;
Not be addicted to or an unlawful user of marijuana or a stimulant, depressant or narcotic drug;
Not be a habitual drunkard;
Not have been charged with, or convicted of, a crime punishable by more than 1 year of imprisonment;
Not be an undocumented alien;
Not have been dishonorably discharged from the armed forces;
Not be a fugitive from justice;
Not be otherwise prohibited from possessing, using, manufacturing, controlling, purchasing, selling or transferring a firearm as provided by Pennsylvania law; and
Non-residents who possess a current license or permit or similar document to carry a firearm issued by their home state (if a license is provided for by the laws of that state) may apply for a non-resident permit. The process is similar to that for residents.
If you change your address or your name is legally changed, you need to go to your county/city Sheriff’s Office for the update. You will need an updated PA driver’s license or ID with the new address or name and $5.00. Your card will be issued for the balance of your time. If your expiration is within 60 days, you can renew with an application.
Go to your county/city sheriff’s office to have your Pennsylvania LCF replaced. You will need a valid driver’s license or state ID and $5.00. It will be issued for the balance of your time after a PICS check is completed. If your expiration is within 60 days, you can renew with an application.
Moving to Pennsylvania and interested in applying for a resident license? How soon can you apply? Pennsylvania issues licenses to residents and permit holders from other states. You can apply for your resident license to the sheriff of your county once you have been a resident of the county for at least 90 days.
Moving from Pennsylvania and have a Pennsylvania resident license? Does that license transfer to your new state? Is there a grace period during which your Pennsylvania license remains valid? If a person with a Pennsylvania resident license to carry firearms establishes residency in another state, the license may expire upon the establishment of residence in the other state. Contact your local issuing authority for details
Pennsylvania Concealed Carry Permit Application Process
How to Apply for a Pennsylvania Concealed Carry Permit
Download and complete the application or go to your county sheriff’s office to obtain an application. The application requires you to provide two references that are not family members.
Take the completed application to your county sheriff’s office or the chief of police. You will need a driver’s license or state ID or, if a resident of another state, your license or permit from that state.
Pay the fee.
Your photo will be taken.
If your background check clears quickly, you may be able to leave with your permit. Otherwise, you will be notified by mail if your application has been approved.
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.” 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.”
Pennsylvania law does not require applicants for a LCF to undergo firearms safety training or otherwise demonstrate knowledge of firearms safety. However, the USCCA recommends that anyone who makes the choice to carry a concealed firearm obtain as much training as possible in order to be a responsibly armed American.
Pennsylvania Concealed Carry Permit Renewal Process
How to Renew a Pennsylvania Concealed Carry Permit
Renewals can be accepted up to 60 days in advance of your permit expiring. Applicants with expired permits more than 60 days old will be considered new applicants.
You have the following two types of permits to choose from:
Hard Plastic, similar to drivers license, $46.00, you do not need to supply photo for this option.
Laminated paper permit with photo attached, $25.00 You must supply 2 official passport photographs to obtain this permit.
You may need to schedule an appointment with the sheriffs office to renew your handgun license, the procedure will vary between counties. Download the application or go to your county sheriff’s office to obtain an application. The application requires you to provide two references that are not family members.
You will be required to take the following;
A completed application;
Your expired handgun license;
Foreign-born applicants who are U.S. Citizens must supply Passport or Naturalization Paperwork;
Foreign-born applicants who are not U.S. Citizens must provide proof of immigration status and 90 days proof of residency (i.e. 3 months of utility bills); and
A driver's license with your current address on it.
Pay the fee.
If your background check clears quickly, you may be able to leave with your permit. Otherwise, you will be notified by mail if your application has been approved.
Law enforcement officers (LEOs) and Retired LEOs (RLEOs) may choose to carry under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA), often referred to as HR 218. Under 18 U.S. Code §§ 926B & 926C, qualified LEOs and qualified retired LEOs, or those separated from service in good standing, can carry a concealed firearm in any jurisdiction in the United States, regardless of state or local laws, with some exceptions. For details check out our Federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) page.
Title 37 Pa. Code CH. 221 establishes requirements for RLEOs to carry concealed weapons under LEOSA and authorizes the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission to oversee training and certification of instructors for the retired law enforcement identification program. Qualified RLEOs must contact the law enforcement agency from which they separated/retired to obtain an identification card and must qualify with a Retired Law Enforcement Identification Act (RLEIA) firearms instructor annually on the type(s) of weapons (semi-automatic and/or revolver) they carry concealed. Once a qualification card has been issued, the retired officer must take the card to the County Sheriff’s Office so a background check can be completed and a confirmation number issued. A qualification card is not valid without a confirmation number.
The public areas of One Penn Center, 2601 North Third Street, Harrisburg, under the jurisdiction of the Department of State including the interior offices of the Department of State, Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation, State Athletic Commission and leased offices and facilities related thereto [Dept. of Genl Services website];
City of Philadelphia-owned buildings and parks (although this disregards state preemption laws) [Phila. Code § 16-306];
It is legal to openly carry or conceal any type of knife in Pennsylvania other than those which fall into the category of “prohibited offensive weapon,” which includes daggers that open automatically, any automatic knives and any implement for the infliction of bodily injury, which serves no “common lawful purpose.” Knives are prohibited on the grounds of any K – 12 school and in courthouse buildings. Municipalities such as Philadelphia, which prohibits cutting weapons in public places, may have additional restrictions.
I can legally carry a concealed firearm in Pennsylvania, but can I wear a COVID 19 protective mask while carrying concealed?
There is no known statute in Pennsylvania making it illegal to wear a COVID mask while carrying concealed. In addition, the Pennsylvania State Police have indicated, “There is no prohibition in Pennsylvania on license to carry permit holders wearing a mask during the ongoing COVID-19 mitigation efforts.”
CARRY WHILE GUN HUNTING?
Can you concealed carry while shotgun/rifle hunting in Pennsylvania?
Yes, with a LCF or permit from a state with which PA has reciprocity.
Here at the USCCA, it is our mission to provide responsible gun owners with the tools they need to be educated and trained. Our team is constantly working to provide you with the most up-to-date and comprehensive list of self-defense laws available for every state.
If you have any questions that you don’t see answered here — let us know! Just email [email protected] and we will be sure to get your question resolved. Your feedback matters to us, and we appreciate you helping to make this page the best possible resource for responsible gun owners!
Permit numbers were obtained from the Crime Prevention Resource Center’s publication entitled, “Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States.” Numbers include resident and non-resident permits for those states that issue both.
The information contained on this website is provided as a service to USCCA, Inc. members and the concealed carry community, and does not constitute legal advice. Although we attempt to address all areas of concealed carry laws in all states, we make no claims, representations, warranties, promises or guarantees as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information disclosed. Legal advice must always be tailored to the individual facts and circumstances of each individual case. Laws are constantly changing, and as such, nothing contained on this website should be used as a substitute for the advice of a lawyer.
If you have any questions regarding USCCA Membership, Delta Defense, handguns laws or the lawful process of carrying concealed, please contact the award-winning Delta Defense Customer Engagement Team.
Uncover the Backstory Free Book
Read the new book that reveals the little-known history of the US Concealed Carry Association.
Are You Born to Protect?
Get Your FREE USCCA Sticker! Enter your email below:
Your FREE book download is on its way to your inbox.
But the U.S. Concealed Carry Association is more than just a story…
We're the best resource to help responsible Americans keep their loved ones safe.