Firearm Violations in Pennsylvania – Do You Know What the Law Says?

Harrisburg Gun Crime Attorneys

Contrary to what many might think, it’s not just criminals, felons, parolees, or illegal aliens that are arrested for firearm violations. Pennsylvania’s laws governing what counts as a long gun, handgun, or firearm determines what can be lawfully transported and what constitutes a firearm violation, even if you have a License to Carry Firearms (LTCF).

For example, under 18 PA.C.S. § 6102, any pistol or revolver with a barrel less than 15 inches long or with an overall length of less than 26 inches when measured from the barrel muzzle to the face of the closed action, counts as a firearm. For shotguns and rifles, the barrel length must be less than 18 inches while the overall length must be less than 26 inches when measured from the muzzle to the bolt or cylinder action.

This means any gun with a barrel longer than 18 inches or an overall length in excess of 26 inches is not covered by the definition of a firearm in Pennsylvania.

The Importance of Understanding the Definition of “Firearm”

Consequently, someone may mistakenly think only pistols or revolvers require a LTCF when being transported or when concealed. Unfortunately, this kind of confusion often arises when gun owners have an incomplete knowledge of gun laws or draw the wrong conclusion from widely publicized trials involving concealed carry and open carry cases.

For example, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the right of lawful gun owners to openly carry firearms without a LTCF in Commonwealth v. Ortiz and Commonwealth v. Hawkins. However, neither ruling allows lawful gun owners to carry a firearm concealed unless they have a permit to do so. Secondly, if a firearm is openly carried, it must be in plain sight and cannot be loaded when transported in a car.

As a result, if a gun owner transports a loaded rifle or shotgun that falls under the definition of “firearm,” he may be surprised to learn he’s in violation of Pennsylvania gun laws. Unfortunately, too many gun owners find this out the hard way when they’re pulled over on their way to the firing range or on a hunting trip.

Criminal Possession of a Firearm

There are a number of situations where possession of a firearm is illegal. Under Chapter 61 of Pennsylvania’s gun laws, possession of a firearm is illegal in the following situations:

• Possession of a firearm while committing a crime
• Possession of a firearm on school property
• Possession of a firearm by a minor
• Possession of a firearm after being convicted of a DUI
• Possession of a firearm by a felon
• Possession of a firearm after a restraining order has been issued against you
• The illegal sale or purchase of a firearm
• Possession of a firearm that has been converted to an automatic weapon

Contact Harrisburg Weapons Violations Attorneys

Pennsylvania’s gun laws can be confusing, leading to unwelcome surprises for gun owners who think they are complying with the law. For example, you may be aware lawful gun owners do not need a LTCF to transport their firearms to the firing range for target practice. However, transporting a firearm is limited to travel to and from the firing range only. As a result, under 18 PA.C.S 6106(11), if you stop to run an errand or have breakfast along the way, you’re in violation of Pennsylvania’s gun laws.

If you’ve been arrested on a weapons or firearms violation, contact Harrisburg criminal defense attorneys at Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLC. We can evaluate your case and discuss the best legal defense options available to you.

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