The laws regarding the transportation and carrying of different types of firearms in the Commonwealth are issues that arise frequently. While, as explained below, there are many lawful allowances for the carrying a loaded firearm, absent a License to Carry Firearms (LTCF), we always advise our clients to obtain an LTCF, even if you never plan on conceal carrying, because it can protect you in many different instances.
Pennsylvania’s definition of a “firearm” is somewhat unusual considering that most people classify any gun as a firearm, but PA’s definition does not. Specifically, Under 18 PA.C.S. § 6102, “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. 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.” Thus, a typical non-NFA shotgun with a barrel of 18” or longer and with an overall length of 26” or more is NOT covered by the definition of “Firearm” in PA. This becomes important when determining what can and cannot be lawfully transported and where a License to Carry Firearms (LTCF) may be beneficial.
(These are rifles that have a barrel 16” or longer, and shotguns that have a barrel 18” or longer.)
1.) An individual who may legally possess can carry an unloaded long gun in his/her car.
2.) An individual who does or does not have a valid License to Carry Firearms (LTCF) cannot carry a loaded long gun in his/her car.
3.) An individual can carry a loaded or unloaded long gun, concealed or openly, without a License to Carry Firearms (LTCF), because, as depicted above, PA’s definition of a firearm does not include long guns. HOWEVER, we highly recommend that you do NOT try conceal carrying a long gun with or without a License to Carry Firearms because the police are unlikely to know the laws, even though you would be lawfully carrying.
1.) An individual can openly carry loaded or unloaded firearms, as defined by PA, which are registered under the NFA, such as short barreled rifles/shotguns, and AOWs; HOWEVER, we strongly recommend against openly carrying such weapons or using such weapons in a self-defense manner because the police are unlikely to know the laws and because of the possible fall out from the use of such weapons, even if the use is lawful.
2.) An individual can conceal carry loaded firearms, regardless of the PA definition, which are registered under the NFA, such as short barreled rifles/shotguns and AOWs, so long as the individual has a valid License to Carry Firearms. HOWEVER, we strongly recommend against using such weapons in a self-defense manner because the police are unlikely to know the laws and because of the possible fall out from the use of such weapons, even if the use was lawful.
To start with, it would be best for you to read my article on “Firearms Not to be Carried without a License”, because that discusses PA’s laws against carrying in vehicles and the surprising limitations on even taking your firearms to the range.
Specifically, under 18 PA.C.S. § 6106(b)(4), one can lawfully transport a firearm, as defined by PA,
“if such persons are at or are going to or from their places of assembly or target practice and if, while going to or from their places of assembly or target practice, the firearm is not loaded.”
Hence, if you meet some of your friends at the range and decide to go grab a bite to eat before returning home, you will NOT be covered under the statute, because, for the statute to apply, you must go directly to the range and return directly to your home.
However, if you have a LTCF, you are protected if you decide to go for a bite to eat because now you fall under 18 PA.C.S § 6106(b)(11). Although there are many more scenarios where a LTCF can protect you, they should be somewhat clear by reading through my article on “Firearms Not to be Carried without a License”.