Firearms Offenses

Definition of Firearm

In Pennsylvania a firearm is defined as 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.

Persons not to Possess Firearms

Those who have been convicted of certain crimes are prohibited from possessing, using, manufacturing, controlling, selling or transferring firearms. Section (b) of the Pennsylvania firearm statute sets forth those crimes which make a person ineligible to possess a firearm. Examples include aggravated assault, rape, arson, criminal trespass (graded as a felony of the second degree or higher), robbery and theft by unlawful taking or disposition (upon conviction of a second felony offense). If you have been convicted of one of the felony offenses listed in Section (b), then possessing a firearm in violation of this statute is graded as a felony of the second degree and is punishable by a maximum permissible sentence of 10 years of incarceration and a $25,000 fine. In addition, a person who has been convicted of a felony drug offense is also prohibited from possessing a firearm and a violation of this statute will be graded as a felony of the second degree.

Further, a person who is subject to an active Protection from Abuse Order which provides for the relinquishment of firearms commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if he intentionally or knowingly fails to relinquish his firearms, other weapon or ammunition and faces a maximum permissible sentence of 5 years of incarceration and a $10,000 fine.

Section (c) of the firearm statute sets forth other people who are prohibited from possessing a firearm including those who are:

  • convicted of a drug offense under Pennsylvania law or an equivalent federal law
  • involuntarily committed to a mental health hospital under section 302, 303 or 304 of the Pennsylvania Mental Health Procedures Act
  • prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal statute 18 U.S.C. ยง 922(g)(9) for a conviction of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence
  • a person who is the subject of an active Protection from Abuse Order which provides for the relinquishment of firearms
  • adjudicated delinquent of an offense which would be listed in Section (b) if committed by an adult
  • in the United States illegally or unlawfully

A person who has been convicted of 3 or more DUI's within a 5 year period is prohibited from transferring or purchasing a firearm after the 3rd conviction, but is not prohibited from possessing a firearm under Pennsylvania law. Please note that there are differences between Pennsylvania and federal law about who is prohibited from possessing a firearm.


If you have questions about whether you are prohibited from possessing a firearm under Pennsylvania or federal law, it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable attorney before applying to purchase a firearm. Contact our experienced firearm attorneys in Reading, PA at 610-372-5128 or email us at info@enmlaw.com.

Firearms not to be Carried without a License

A person is prohibited from carrying a firearm in his vehicle or on his person outside of his home or fixed place of business if he does not possess a valid license to do so. This offense is graded as a felony of the third degree and is punishable by a maximum permissible sentence of 7 years of incarceration and a $15,000 fine. However, if the person is otherwise eligible for a license and did not commit any other criminal violation while carrying the firearm without a license, then the offense is graded as a misdemeanor of the first degree and is punishable by a maximum permissible sentence of 5 years of incarceration and a $10,000 fine. It is not a crime to carry an unloaded firearm in your car without a license if you are on your way to or from target practice. Nor is it a crime to carry an unloaded and securely wrapped firearm from the place of purchase to your home or place of business.

Possession of a Firearm with Altered Manufacturer's Number

It is illegal to possess a firearm that has had the manufacturer's number on the frame or receiver altered, changed, removed or obliterated. This offense is graded as a felony of the second degree and is punishable by a maximum permissible sentence of 10 years of incarceration and a $25,000 fine.

Making False Statements in Connection with Application for Firearms

Any person who makes any materially false oral or written statement in connection with the purchase, delivery or transfer of a firearm is guilty of a felony of the third degree and faces a maximum permissible sentence of 7 years of incarceration and a $15,000 fine. A violation of this statute is usually seen when a person makes false statements on the application to purchase a firearm in a store.