How to Buy a Gun in Pennsylvania (2022 UPDATED) Read This

How To Buy A Gun In Pennsylvania
Alfred Mendoza

Pennsylvania has stricter gun laws compared to other states. Despite that, there has been a significant increase in gun sales since the start of this year. One cited reason is the mental turmoil caused by the pandemic.

We have listed below the process on how to buy a gun in Pennsylvania

6 Steps In Buying A Gun In Pennsylvania

1. Meet The Necessary Requirements

The first step is to verify that you are legally allowed to purchase a firearm. What we mean by this statement is that you are not convicted of any violent crime. The law also prohibits a person who is subject to an active protection from abuse order, who is declared mentally ill by the court, or an undocumented immigrant to own a gun.

Subsequent purchase after three separate DUI charges is also not allowed. The minimum age required to purchase a long gun or rifle is 18, while you have to be 21 years old to own a handgun.

2. Find A Local FFL Dealer

There are more than 2500 federally licensed firearms dealers in Pennsylvania. They must conduct a background investigation on any potential purchaser through the Pennsylvania Instant Check System or the PICS. This system helps them determine if the law allows the buyer to own a gun or not.

It is highly advised to purchase only from a licensed dealer, whether from a local gun shop or a gun show. We want to take every step legally.

3. Fill Out & Sign Form Government Form 4473

After deciding on a local FFL dealer, you must fill out a form with accurate basic information. This form is the ATF Form 4473 provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives which should be accomplished inside the gun shop of a federally licensed dealer. 

The buyer should still accomplish this form in case of a transaction from a gun show. There was a recent amendment made to this form requiring the buyer to provide his ethnicity and race. This is to avoid a case of mistaken identity if a crime is committed using a gun.

Fill Out & Sign Form Government Form 4473

4. Pay For The Gun & Other Fees

The licensed gun dealer will collect an additional $20 to $30 to conduct a check on the PICS on top of the gun’s price. The amount depends on whether you will get a handgun or a long gun such as a rifle or shotgun. There is also a surcharge amount of $3 for every firearm acquired from the gun shop. [1]

A request for a concealed carry license shall collect additional fees. The concealed carry license amounts to a total of not more than $20 payable to the Pennsylvania State Police.

5. Pass The Background Check

Pennsylvania is one of those states that require a background check for purchasing a firearm. The licensed firearms dealer or the state police will run your information through the PICS. The system will provide them with information about your criminal record, mental health history, and other unlawful activities. 

The check can be accomplished in a matter of minutes at the point of sale unless the purchaser is subject to prohibitions. Before making any transfer, it is a crucial step to confirm if the buyer is legally allowed to own a gun or not.

Pass The Background Check

6. Pick-Up Your Firearm

Picking up your firearm is the final step on the topic of how to buy a gun in Pennsylvania. After meeting the requirements, paying for all the fees, and passing the background check, you can finally pick up your firearm. There is no waiting period required here compared to other states.

Keep in mind that you have to carry your weapon in plain view, which is highly discouraged by the Pennsylvania State Police. Gun owners will have to request a concealed carry license later.

Additional Note: The Gun Show Loophole

The gun show loophole is when you purchase a firearm from a private dealer or unauthorized seller. A long gun purchase such as a rifle or shotgun will not require a background check. But if you buy a handgun privately, such as a shotgun or pistol, you have to undergo the same process as buying from a local gun shop.

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Persons Prohibited In Owning A Gun

Persons Prohibited In Owning A Gun
  • Persons convicted of felony crimes such as murder, arson, kidnapping, rape, or manslaughter
  • Persons who are declared mentally ill by the court
  • Persons who are undocumented immigrants in the country
  • Habitual drunkard convicted of 3 DUI charges within a five-year period
  • Persons who have active protection from abuse order
  • Persons who tried to escape the jurisdiction
  • Persons who are convicted drug addict
  • Other offenses set by the authority that prohibits an individual from owning a firearm


No, Pennsylvania does not need a permit to purchase a firearm. You only have to pass the background check before purchasing a firearm.

Yes, you can buy a gun from a federally licensed dealer online. If the gun comes from a different state, two federally licensed dealers should make the firearms transfer. The barrel and its unloaded ammunition must be in two separate containers inside the vehicle during transport.

Illegally carrying a gun has a penalty that ranges from five years to ten years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $25000. Carrying a concealed handgun without a license is one of the most common charges.

No, there is no waiting period for purchasing handguns. The licensed firearms dealer shall do the background check at the time of purchase. If the buyer is qualified to own a gun, they can make their purchases right away.

Yes, it is legal to open-carry a loaded firearm in Pennsylvania. The thing that gun owners have to remember is conceal-carrying a gun inside the vehicle without a license. The local sheriff’s office can issue a concealed carry license after investigating the requester.

In Summary

Having your gun is helpful, not only for yourself but also for the community. However, it would be best to remember the restricted areas where you are prohibited to carry your guns – which includes federal buildings, school grounds, and Philadelphia city parks. 

It is an advantage that Pennsylvania has stricter laws compared to the other states.  These laws keep a deadly device away from the hands of unfit individuals.

We hope we were able to provide you with appropriate information on how to buy a gun in Pennsylvania.



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