How to buy a gun in Pennsylvania

How to buy a gun in Pennsylvania

How to buy a gun in Pennsylvania

Whether you want to purchase a firearm to take up hunting, competitive shooting, or for self-defense and home protection, buying a gun in Pennsylvania is easy and straight forward but does have requirements and takes some time to process. We will walk you through the step by step process of how to buy a gun in Pennsylvania.

Step 1: Gun Purchase Legal Requirements

Pennsylvania state has several requirements for purchasing a gun.
First, you must be 18 to buy a gun. You are not allowed to have a gun if you have been convicted of a violent crime nor can you have a gun if you are an undocumented immigrant, are declared mentally ill by the court, are a drug addict or habitual drunkard, are a fugitive from justice, have been convicted of three separate DUI charges within a five-year period or are subject to an active protection from abuse order.
If you aren’t disqualified from the legal requirements, continue reading on about how to buy a gun in Pennsylvania!

Step 2: Go to a Pennsylvania gun store

There are more than 2,500 federally licensed firearms dealers in Pennsylvania. The chance is, there’s one nearby you. Some gun stores, like 717 Armory Gun Shop in Harrisburg, has an indoor shooting range where you can try out the most popular guns on the market before you decide on one to buy! They also have an Online Gun Shop.

how to buy a gun in pa state

ATF Form 4473

Step 3: Fill out an application to purchase a gun in Pennsylvania

People interested in purchasing a firearm — whether it be a handgun, rifle, or shotgun — must fill out an application. The application will ask for your basic information, as well as ask questions regarding your criminal and mental health history to ensure you meet the legal requirements in step 1.

Step 4: Pennsylvania State Police Background check and fees

At this point, your firearms dealer will plug that information into the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) to determine if you are legally allowed to own a gun.
There is a fee for this background check to be performed and it usually ranges between $20 and $30 depending on whether you are buying a handgun or a long gun.
“In most cases, the check goes through within minutes — very quickly,” says Adam Reed of the Pennsylvania State Police said. “If there’s an issue that pops up, the gun dealer then is instructed to get on the phone with an operator here [at our PSP] headquarters.”
Issues like this typically arise when the applicant has an active protection from abuse order or is convicted of a crime in another state.

Option 2: Buy at a gun show or from a friend

Aside from purchasing at a gun shop, Pennsylvanians may also purchase firearms at a gun show or from a private dealer.
If you purchase a firearm from a federally licensed dealer at the gun show, the process is the same as if you purchased it from a gun shop. You will have to fill out an application to purchase a firearm and go through a PICS background check.

But the process changes if you purchase a gun from someone that is not a federally licensed dealer — known as the gun show loophole — or from someone privately.
You are allowed by law to purchase a long gun which includes a rifle or shotgun — without having to go through a background check.
But If you wanted to purchase a handgun privately, you would have to go to a FFL dealer to complete the transfer of a firearm. There is a fee for this transfer which is between $40-$70 depending on the dealer.

The FFL transfer deal will require you to fill out the same application and background check as if you were purchasing the firearm from them.

How to buy a gun in PA

Man with gun and permit application documents

Rules about carrying your firearm in Pennsylvania

The laws surrounding carrying your firearm is a little tricky in Pennsylvania. Gun owners can carry their firearms in public, as long as it is in plain view, like on the front part of a belt or over a jacket.
It is not legal to conceal the weapon behind a jacket or have it placed in a vehicle without having a concealed carry license. Open carry and concealed carry gun owners alike should followup their gun purchase with firearms training and legal training to protect themselves and those around them to the maximum extent shall they find themselves in a life-threatening situation.

Transporting your firearm around Pennsylvania

If you don’t have a concealed carry license but want to transport your gun to the range to practice shooting, you must carry your firearms and their unloaded ammunition in two separate containers in your vehicle.

50 Comments

  1. David Baublitz

    Question: I have a felony from 2007. The crime/charge was ‘fleeing and eluding’. State is Pennsylvania where i reside. My voting rights are intact. I’m wondering if my 2nd amendment rights are restored or not. I do not believe this was considered a violet crime.
    I feel i should be able to protect my wife in our home and being able to be a responsible gun owner eliminates that ability.
    Thanks for anticipated response.

    Reply
    • Maleek Smith

      Please let me know the responses you received

      Reply
      • Michelle L Kreps

        I am a ny state resident can i buy a gun in Pennsylvania

        Reply
        • Paul ROACH

          You have to switch your residency to PA…I myself just moved here from NY and no gun shop will do anything without a PA state ID like a driver’s license, permit or a non drivers ID…something showing u live here now

          Reply
        • Michael

          I’m a ny state resident can I buy a shotgun in pa

          Reply
    • Mark Hudson

      I have a felony marijuana charge from 2005 for possession and delivery of marijuana, I own a handgun before that with a license to carry can I open carry or keep it in the house. I was told by sherrifs I could keep my gun.

      Also is it legal for me to get a shotgun

      Reply
      • Nicholas H

        Can you get a gun with a second degree assault

        Reply
        • Aimir Humphrey

          Can I go pick my gun up with my license?

          Reply
    • Jon Draven

      Once you were released from prison your voting rights were restored immediately. Since you were convicted of a felony, you will never be allowed to own a gun in Pa. Even if you tried to restore your rights, its usually useless unless you were granted a pardon. Here is a link to see if you can get restored
      https://www.recordgone.com/eligibility/

      best of luck

      Reply
    • Michael Brown

      I am in Pennsylvania for the week from Maryland, I have a Maryland concceal, Utah, Florida and Virginia can I purchase a shotgun and walk with it

      Reply
      • Clayton

        This may be a stupid question but I really want to make sure I I do everything correct. I plan on training myself via dry fire with my holster since there is a shortage in ammo… I’m 20 and I would like to know if it’s possible for me to buy a Glock at my age. I just want to keep it on my property so that I can train and practice. Or do I have to wait until I’m 21 to be able to purchase the gun? Thanks in advance!

        Reply
      • Holly Murr

        I have no felonies. But I have paraphilia charges from 2010. Would that prevent me from getting a permit. Haven’t been in active addiction for many years.

        Reply
  2. Paul Root

    I will soon be moving back to PA from CA. I was born and raised in PA and moved to CA for the military. How long must I wait to be able to purchase a firearm in PA? Do I need to become a resident again first? How long does that take? I appreciate your knowledge and can’t wait to get back home to a free state!

    Reply
    • garp

      184 days with proof (utility bills are the easiest to show this)

      Reply
      • David

        A friend of mine said he made a mistake on filling out his application to buy a firearm from a gun shop, he misunderstood a question about buyer/tranferee, he answered no. He’s a first time gun buyer & made a mistake & the gun shop would not let him fill out another application, after it was rejected is that legal to do?

        Reply
    • Gary

      If you have never changed your state residency you are still a PA resident, get a new driver’s license if you have a different state. If you’ve changed your residency go talk to your Personel office they can point you into how to do it, its very simple.

      Reply
  3. Stacy Bates

    So in Pa I don’t have to get a license first? You need a license to courtyard though is that correct? Thanks

    Reply
  4. Travis Snider

    I just yesterday tried to buy a simple .22 hand gun and waited 5 hours for my background check to go through only for them to call me and tell me I was denied for unknown reasons… i do not have any charges or pfa or anything this is the 3rd time I’ve been denied now for absolutely NO reason that’s $50 dollars a shot for nothing plus the hour drive there and hour back can anybody tell me why ?

    Reply
    • Colleen

      Any chance someone with the same name? Do you have a middle initial or a middle name you could put on your application? Maybe your state rep can help you. I don’t know but maybe somebody has stolen your name for something else? I’m thinking of getting a gun myself I really am looking at this site for information also. Good luck

      Reply
    • er

      are you sure you arent a felon and you forgot? just kidding. your identity may have been stolen, thats one possibility. if you didnt provide your social to the dealer, i would, because your name seems pretty common. i would call around and be nice, but firm. and i would also politiely demand the fee be waived the next time i go in if they arent gonna give me answers. good luck

      Reply
  5. Russell Bradley

    What is concerned a violent crime in PA?

    Reply
    • Russell

      What is considered a violent crime in PA?

      Reply
      • Colleen

        Anything that’s not a misdemeanor? Or a civil case such as a PFA which is considered possibility of violence to another person

        Reply
      • David

        A friend of mine said he made a mistake on filling out his application to buy a firearm from a gun shop, he misunderstood a question about buyer/tranferee, he answered no. He’s a first time gun buyer & made a mistake & the gun shop would not let him fill out another application, after it was rejected is that legal to do?

        Reply
  6. Jonathan Powley

    Hi there,

    I have been taking long hikes to go fishing this spring because i am quarantined from doing anything else. It donned on me that if a bear sees me coming out of hybernation, it may try to eat me – I have no protection. I was thinking of buying a gun for protection of the bears! What gun would you recommend. Also I have never owned a gun. I shot one once in Boy Scout Camp, thats it. I would only be using this gun when in the woods hiking to and from streams and rivers through heavy wooded areas.

    Reply
    • Jacob

      Anything really would work because the bears are most likely gonna be scared of the loud noise. If your that concerned of a bear eating you I would go with a 350 Magnum or a glock 17.

      Reply
    • Misses Shockletam

      I carry a side arm with me when I hunt, whether I am alone or not. I grew up in Minnesota where there are Timberwolves….2 or 3 x larger than a coyote. I usually had about 5 minutes before one wolf would show up when I started to field dress. The bigger problem is, to me, when the DNRs in each state have given arbitrary caps to species hunts, then there are ALWAYS over populations. A couple yrs for me there were over populations of timberwolves. The worst year was 2010. I went out with my rifle & a sidearm that was my conceal & carry (it was legal there in MN to conceal, it is NOT in PA) it was 5 in the mag, 1 in the chamber and the wolveS came. Not ONE, a WHOLE PACK. When they do that, they size YOU up & decide if you are worth killing to get the entire deer, instead of just the endtrails you’re taking out. After that, I got a larger weapon for side arm open carry while hunting; 15 in the mag, 1 in the chamber. If you go out ALONE, I advise a side arm 100% of the time. If you are with someone inexperienced….100% of the time you should have a side arm. If you are in an unfamiliar place hunting, like the first time I went hunting in Nebraska…you should carry a side arm 100% of that time. Frankly, during hunting season, I wouldn’t go anywhere without one. I happened upon 3 DRUNK dudes hunting bear in Nebraska OUT of season. When they saw me and realized I was watching what they were doing, I thought they were going to come for me next. I have been approached from behind in the bush by ppl who didn’t announce they were coming near, then asked me what DIRECTION they were walking in… I mean….Jesus lol I would NEVER go anywhere into a forest; hiking or hunting, without being armed these days. People are fuggin nuts.

      Reply
  7. Aymen Elmobdy

    Hello. I would like to fill out the application to purchase a fire arm. Can I do this online? I would be a first time buyer.

    Reply
  8. Brandon

    I have a history of mental health. I have been diagnosed with depression and bipolar in my past however I am not medicated for it. I am able to handle myself without medication. I have never been deemed mentally ill from the court. It was just a diagnosis that I have received from my doctor. Does that disqualify me?

    Reply
  9. Angie

    In 1997? (23 years ago) I attempted suicide by taking pills… I was a dumb kid (age 19) & didn’t know how to ask for help. It almost worked, so I was obviously 302ed. Does that prohibit me from buying a handgun for home protection? I live in the woods with very few houses around me, but lots of dangerous wildlife. It’s mostly farmland & 17 acres of just woods. There is a HUGE pack of coyotes that kills deer during the day even in our yards, bears that come in our yards, etc., so I’d really like to be able to get a small handgun. Maybe a .22 or something… I actually had a wolf about 20 feet from me once just staring at me while I was standing in my driveway, again, during the day — talk about scary!

    I have absolutely NO criminal convictions, no even a speeding ticket, I even have a degree as a Legal Assistant, and have 5 licenses through the state to sell insurance, & am certified in banking as well, & for insurance & banking they do local, state, & federal background checks so I know I’m good there, plus I received an Honorable Discharge from the Army Reserve…

    Your help would be appreciated. 🙂

    Reply
    • Gary S

      ….You live in the woods, you going to see wildlife. A .22 would only piss off any of the animals you mentioned. Your better off with a load airhorn and bearspray . I you really are considering a gun, take a course first, it will help you decide.

      Reply
  10. James

    Let’s say I’m buying a AR15 from a gun store in West Virginia and having it shipped here to me in PA do I need to get it registered or whenever it gets here it’s just mine with no extra steps.

    Reply
  11. Cathy Holloway

    I purchased my Smith and Wesson EZ from 717 and I love it. I want to get my carry permit but would like to find a class for concealed carry. I do not see one offered on your class list, any chance you would think of offering one sometime soon? Hubby and I are members at 717 as well.

    Reply
  12. G fisher

    My son lives and works in ny he is buying a home in pa.can he buy a rifle for protection without changing his my license

    Reply
  13. Cynthia Rugg

    How long after a active PFA is over before I can apply? I was a victim not a abuser?

    Reply
  14. Jose E Rodriguez Rivera

    I am 20 and I am interested in buying a hand gun and I was wondering if I could

    Reply
  15. Erin

    What paperwork do you need to bring to purchase n apply

    Reply
  16. Laura Calascinetta

    Do I need a license to buy a gun? My record squeeky clean, but atm I don’t have a valid license. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Jacklyn

      I would believe so for identification purposes. I know for a fact you would need it if you’d like to apply for a permit to carry. Best to call your local gun store to check. But I would say, Yes.

      Reply
  17. Jacklyn

    I have a PFA against an abusive ex for a multiple year duration in PA. Am I still able to buy a firearm, despite the other party being unable to?

    Reply
  18. Tommy

    Second time gun buyer(I owned a .380 about 30 years ago) & I have no felony charges against me. I went to buy a VP9 for home protection after I friend of mine was almost stabbed to death in a home invasion. The background check took over an hour & eventually ended up in “research mode”. I walked away with a down payment on the gun because they are difficult to find. Two weeks later I was notified that I failed the background check(no reason why). That same day I mailed out the challenge paper work with some additional details. It has been 7 business days, & I still haven’t heard anything back from the PA state police. This is a whole bunch of BS I am going through to uphold my 2nd amendment rights. I believe the system has failed me more than once & I don’t know what to do next. Get the help of a state representative? Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  19. Tommy

    I should have been more precise…. it’s been 7 business days since the challenge paperwork was delivered(certified & tracked).

    Reply
  20. Lindsey Jackson

    I have a clean record but husband has a felony from 20-30 years ago. He can’t buy a gun but am I restricted also? What issues will we have with him being in the house with a gun?

    Reply
  21. Lindsey

    Can I have a gun if husband is a felon? What are my rights?

    Reply
  22. Gunny

    I live in PA. I have a CC for PA and MD. Can a shotgun be mailed directly to my house?

    Reply
  23. Christopher Harty

    After serving 2 years probation for receiving stolen property in 1985 my Bucks County probation officer told me it was lawful to own a gun since I wasn’t convicted of a crime of violence. Unfortunately he was only referencing Pennsylvania lawd without regards to 18 USC 922 of the Gun Control Act of 1968 and through a lack of due diligence on my part I falsified ATF Form 4473. In 1989 I was arrested by ATF after one of the gun shops was audited and the 4473 forms reviewed for compliance. I served 5 years probation after being convicted in federal court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Today 30 years later I am finding it almost impossible to have my firearms rights restored as this can only be done by a presidential pardon… and Biden is adamantly antigun. I’m not trying to absolve my guilt here, just looking for forgiveness for a long ago nonviolent federal crime. This wouldn’t happen today as the gun laws are widely publicized on the Internet; in 1987 there was no online anything and most county and state officials even knew the Gun Control Act even existed or who the ATF even were. They didn’t make nationwide prominence until Waco in 1993. Hopefully SCOTUS with Barr vs. Kanter will change some of the prohibitions under 18 USC 922 as Amy Conan Barrett thinks they’re wildly overinclusive.

    Reply
  24. Josh

    How do I ‘officially’ purchase an AR-15 from my fiancé to make it official in Pennsylvania? Is there paper work to fill out or will it still be considered under her name?

    Reply
  25. Nicholas Crist

    I purchased a used handgun from my son. Do I need to complete an FFL Transfer?

    Reply
  26. KB

    How is that I am able to have a gun license but not able to purchase a gun? This makes no sense. I live in PA. Can you explain what the purpose of the license is? Thank you

    Reply
    • Tasha K

      Can you purchase a gun if your a medical marijuana card holder in Pa!

      Reply

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