Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library
Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 2021 ‘Firearm Prohibitions in Pennsylvania.’ Who Can Have a Gun. San Francisco, CA: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 23 June
Prohibited Purchasers Generally in Pennsylvania
Federal law prohibits certain persons from purchasing or possessing firearms, such as felons, certain domestic abusers, and certain people with a history of mental illness.
Pennsylvania law provides that, subject to certain limited exceptions, no person shall possess a firearm if he or she has been convicted of:
- Possessing, using, making, repairing, selling, or otherwise dealing in any "offensive weapon," including machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, firearms with a silencer, and stun guns (see § 908);
- An offense relating to organized crime;
- Possessing a weapon on school property;
- Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter involving reckless use of a firearm;
- Aggravated assault;
- Assault by a prisoner or a "life prisoner;"
- Kidnapping or unlawful restraint;
- Rape, involuntary intercourse, or aggravated indecent assault;
- Luring a child into a motor vehicle;
- Causing or risking catastrophe;
- Criminal trespass (at the level of second degree felony or higher);
- Robbery or robbery of a motor vehicle;
- Felony theft or felony extortion accompanied by threats of violence (if it is the second conviction for said felony);
- Felony receiving stolen property;
- Impersonating a law enforcement officer;
- Intimidation of, or retaliation against, a witness or a victim;
- Escape from "official detention";
- Possession of weapons or implements for escape from a detention facility, correctional institution or mental hospital;
- Paramilitary training;
- Possession of a firearm by a minor or corruption of minors;
- An offense involving "facsimile weapons of mass destruction"; or
- Unlawful sale or lease of weapons or explosives.
Pennsylvania law also prohibits the following individuals from possessing a firearm:
- A fugitive from justice;
- A person who has been convicted of an offense under The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act;
- A person who has been adjudicated as incompetent or involuntarily committed to a mental institution;
- An illegal alien;
- A person adjudicated delinquent under federal or state law as a result of conduct which, if committed by an adult, would constitute specified offenses under Pennsylvania law for a period of 15 years or until the person is age 30;
- A person who is the subject of an active protection from abuse order that provides for the relinquishment of firearms; or
- A person who is prohibited by federal law from possessing or acquiring a firearm because of a conviction for a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
A person who has been convicted of driving under the influence on three or more separate occasions within a five-year period is prohibited from purchasing but not possessing a firearm.
Pennsylvania law allows persons who are prohibited by Pennsylvania law from possessing firearms by virtue of a criminal conviction to apply to the court of common pleas of the county where the principal residence of the applicant is situated for relief from the firearm prohibition. The court must grant the relief if ten years have passed since the conviction.
A person prohibited from possessing firearms because he or she was adjudicated incompetent or involuntarily committed to a mental institution may similarly petition a court for relief from disability, in which case the hearing must be closed. The court may grant such relief as it deems appropriate if it determines that the applicant may possess a firearm without risk to himself or herself or any other person…
[Editor's note: The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence regularly updates its webpages with new data as US gun regulation evolves state by state. For the most up-to-date information on US gun laws, please refer to the Giffords URL below]