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How to get your License to Carry a Firearm
09-08-2012, 01:45 AM
Post: #1
How to get your License to Carry a Firearm
As a member of second amendment forums for a few years, as a volunteer activist, and as an employee for a federally licensed firearms dealer one of the question I get asked the most is "How do I get a license to carry a firearm?". This post is designed as a quick guide on how to get your license, broken down both for residents and non-residents alike.

This guide assume you are not legally prohibited from obtaining your license. If you have any doubts about that it is highly recommended that you seek out an attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable in Pennsylvania firearms' law. Nothing here is considered legal advice and this poster assumes no responsibility over the reliability of information contained in links as it is beyond my control.

State law mandates that both the license and the application for the license to carry are to be uniform across the Commonwealth. However, in practice this uniformity is not enforced. Despite the questionable legality of additional requirements several Sheriffs, and the Philadelphia police department, have additional forms and requirements that they ask of applicants that go beyond what State law requires. In fact even the very application form itself contains spaces for information that the law does not ask of applicants, such as employer information and a request for two personal references. This guide assumes that as an applicant you are not capable of challenging these additional restrictions and requirements.

For Pennsylvania Residents:

On the matter of where to place your application State law is thankfully quite clear: "An individual who is 21 years of age or older may apply to a sheriff for a license to carry a firearm concealed on or about his person or in a vehicle within this Commonwealth. If the applicant is a resident of this Commonwealth, he shall make application with the sheriff of the county in which he resides or, if a resident of a city of the first class, with the chief of police of that city" (18 Pa.C.S. § 6109(b))
Currently the only city of the first class is Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Police Department's Gun Permit Unit handles all license applications on behalf of the chief of police. For residents of every other county the place of application is at your Sheriff's office.


If you are unsure of what County you live in the State has a "Find Your Municipality" tool online, simply enter in your address: http://munstatspa.dced.state.pa.us/FindL...x.aspx?T=1

It is advised to contact your listed County sheriffs' office to confirm that you do in fact live within the county if you are relying on the State tool for your information. The PA Sheriffs' Association maintains a list of contact information for each County Sheriffs' office here: http://www.pasheriffs.org/sheriff-info/


Each County Sheriff, and the Gun Permit Unit of the Philadelphia Police Department, maintains different operating hours. Some counties have satellite locations and some Sheriffs will even accept license applications at events held away from their offices. In order to find out the location to drop off your application and what time you may do so you should check your Sheriff/GPU website or call your individual issuing agent.


The website and/or staff of your issuing agent should also inform you if your county requires you to bring any additional forms or items and what type of payment they accept for the $20 application fee. The $20 fee is set by State law, and is "payable at the time of application for the license" (18 Pa.C.S. § 6109(h)(5)) . Should your application be denied for any reason you should receive a $15 refund. All counties have been informed and should be compliant with the $20 application fee at this time despite past problems with excess fees being charged.

Philadelphia residents should take this warning seriously: The Philadelphia Gun Permit Unit is not friendly towards gun owners and you will be asked for much more information beyond what State law requires. You will also be required to go through an interview process where any excuse to deny your application under the 'character clause' in 18 Pa.C.S. § 6109(e)(1)(i) will be looked for. If you have any arrest record, even you were never convicted of any crime, it is highly recommended that you consult an attorney knowledgeable and experienced in handling appeals of denials and revocations by the Gun Permit Unit before applying.


Trust me, I am disgusted that I must say that you will likely be treated as guilty even if you were acquitted of past charges and that the appeals process is much easier if you are prepared in advance for it rather than rushing to appeal a denial for which you were unprepared. I have some attorneys in mind but at the moment I will wait to list them here until I have their approval to do so.


For Pennsylvania residents outside of Philadelphia county you will, in nearly all other counties, have to do little other than drop off an application, pay the state mandated fee, and await the issuance of your license. Most, but not all, counties gladly comply with the basic requirements of state law without adding additional barriers to the process. Renewal licenses are legally the same as new applications and while issuing agents are legally obligated to send applications to you before renewing many counties are not yet complaint with that obligation. "At least 60 days prior to the expiration of each license, the issuing sheriff shall send to the licensee an application for renewal of license. Failure to receive a renewal application shall not relieve a licensee from the responsibility to renew the license" (18 Pa.C.S. § 6109(f)(2).


If you are renewing your license you may be surprised that the form of license has changed from what it was in the past. I will refrain from a detailed explanation of the many variants of licenses issued over the last five years and simply say that the new license is a small laminated paper card that is approximately the size of a credit card. Take note that it is not an acceptable form of identification to satisfy your identification requirements for voting.

For non-residents:

Pennsylvania does not legally have a separate "non-resident license". If you apply and receive a Pennsylvania license to carry it is the same as any issued to a resident of the Commonwealth. However unlike Pennsylvania residents, non-residents must have a license to carry from their home state if it issues one and may apply in any county in the State. It is HIGHLY recommended that as a non-resident applicant you do not apply in Philadelphia county.

Unfortunately some county sheriffs are refusing to issue to non-resident applicants. Many simply will not accept the applications as they could not give a legal reason for a denial if they tried. Not accepting the applications is the only way for them to try and skirt their obligation to accept and issue licenses to non-residents. As of this time I do not have a list of all the counties refusing non-resident applications. I will endeavor to create one and update this posting when I can.

The License to Carry Advisory Committee has mandated that all applications be done in person. This is despite the fact that the committee never made this requirement according to any law or authorized regulation and the fact that this committee was never given any explicit legal authority over the license to carry issuance process. To be absolutely clear, this requirement is not found in Pennsylvania law. At this time it is recommended that if you desire a Pennsylvania license you contact the Pennsylvania sheriffs in the counties that are closest to you (with the exception of Philadelphia) and arrange a time that works for you to apply.

An easier process to carry in Pennsylvania, with the exception of school zones, is to obtain a license from a State that has reciprocity with Pennsylvania that you can obtain remotely. Once again, this is not legal advice. Non-residents that take this route should be warned that some Pennsylvania state representatives and state senators want to prohibit you from being able to carry on a reciprocal license that is not from your home state. Currently all efforts to do so have stalled but they are persistent. Also all Pennsylvania residents and nonresidents with reciprocal licenses are personally advised to study and watch the ongoing case of Commonwealth Of Pennsylvania vs. Hobson L. McKown as it could have an impact on the validity of some licenses if the case reaches a level where State precedent is set.

Documents and information on that case are available here:http://www.thecrimsonpirate.com/rtkba/archive.html

Any questions on reciprocity should be directed to the PA Attorney General: http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/crime.aspx?id=184

For both non-residents and residents it must be said again that most counties are clearly following the guidelines of state law and not abusing applicants. Unfortunately there are exceptions and some counties do abuse the citizens they are supposed to serve. Many Pennsylvania citizens are hard at work trying to enforce the uniformity requirements of state law, but the work is far from over. For now it must be widely reported that the process is fractured and that issuing agents across the state have been willfully ignoring provisions of state law for years without consequence. I will update this guide as I can to include more detailed county-by-county information and please if you see an error in fact point it out. I endeavor to be as accurate as possible with this short guide to the question of how to apply for your license to carry.
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09-08-2012, 03:22 AM
Post: #2
RE: How to get your License to Carry a Firearm
Lackawanna County is one of the ones that doesn't issue non-residential licenses.
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09-08-2012, 12:17 PM
Post: #3
RE: How to get your License to Carry a Firearm
I can't find it now....but this would be a good post to link your Sheriff website Project. Have you updated it?

(09-08-2012 01:45 AM)IronSight Wrote:  As a member of second amendment forums for a few years, as a volunteer activist, and as an employee for a federally licensed firearms dealer one of the question I get asked the most is "How do I get a license to carry a firearm?". This post is designed as a quick guide on how to get your license, broken down both for residents and non-residents alike.

This guide assume you are not legally prohibited from obtaining your license. If you have any doubts about that it is highly recommended that you seek out an attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable in Pennsylvania firearms' law. Nothing here is considered legal advice and this poster assumes no responsibility over the reliability of information contained in links as it is beyond my control.

State law mandates that both the license and the application for the license to carry are to be uniform across the Commonwealth. However, in practice this uniformity is not enforced. Despite the questionable legality of additional requirements several Sheriffs, and the Philadelphia police department, have additional forms and requirements that they ask of applicants that go beyond what State law requires. In fact even the very application form itself contains spaces for information that the law does not ask of applicants, such as employer information and a request for two personal references. This guide assumes that as an applicant you are not capable of challenging these additional restrictions and requirements.

For Pennsylvania Residents:

On the matter of where to place your application State law is thankfully quite clear: "An individual who is 21 years of age or older may apply to a sheriff for a license to carry a firearm concealed on or about his person or in a vehicle within this Commonwealth. If the applicant is a resident of this Commonwealth, he shall make application with the sheriff of the county in which he resides or, if a resident of a city of the first class, with the chief of police of that city" (18 Pa.C.S. § 6109(b))
Currently the only city of the first class is Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Police Department's Gun Permit Unit handles all license applications on behalf of the chief of police. For residents of every other county the place of application is at your Sheriff's office.


If you are unsure of what County you live in the State has a "Find Your Municipality" tool online, simply enter in your address: http://munstatspa.dced.state.pa.us/FindL...x.aspx?T=1

It is advised to contact your listed County sheriffs' office to confirm that you do in fact live within the county if you are relying on the State tool for your information. The PA Sheriffs' Association maintains a list of contact information for each County Sheriffs' office here: http://www.pasheriffs.org/sheriff-info/


Each County Sheriff, and the Gun Permit Unit of the Philadelphia Police Department, maintains different operating hours. Some counties have satellite locations and some Sheriffs will even accept license applications at events held away from their offices. In order to find out the location to drop off your application and what time you may do so you should check your Sheriff/GPU website or call your individual issuing agent.


The website and/or staff of your issuing agent should also inform you if your county requires you to bring any additional forms or items and what type of payment they accept for the $20 application fee. The $20 fee is set by State law, and is "payable at the time of application for the license" (18 Pa.C.S. § 6109(h)(5)) . Should your application be denied for any reason you should receive a $15 refund. All counties have been informed and should be compliant with the $20 application fee at this time despite past problems with excess fees being charged.

Philadelphia residents should take this warning seriously: The Philadelphia Gun Permit Unit is not friendly towards gun owners and you will be asked for much more information beyond what State law requires. You will also be required to go through an interview process where any excuse to deny your application under the 'character clause' in 18 Pa.C.S. § 6109(e)(1)(i) will be looked for. If you have any arrest record, even you were never convicted of any crime, it is highly recommended that you consult an attorney knowledgeable and experienced in handling appeals of denials and revocations by the Gun Permit Unit before applying.


Trust me, I am disgusted that I must say that you will likely be treated as guilty even if you were acquitted of past charges and that the appeals process is much easier if you are prepared in advance for it rather than rushing to appeal a denial for which you were unprepared. I have some attorneys in mind but at the moment I will wait to list them here until I have their approval to do so.


For Pennsylvania residents outside of Philadelphia county you will, in nearly all other counties, have to do little other than drop off an application, pay the state mandated fee, and await the issuance of your license. Most, but not all, counties gladly comply with the basic requirements of state law without adding additional barriers to the process. Renewal licenses are legally the same as new applications and while issuing agents are legally obligated to send applications to you before renewing many counties are not yet complaint with that obligation. "At least 60 days prior to the expiration of each license, the issuing sheriff shall send to the licensee an application for renewal of license. Failure to receive a renewal application shall not relieve a licensee from the responsibility to renew the license" (18 Pa.C.S. § 6109(f)(2).


If you are renewing your license you may be surprised that the form of license has changed from what it was in the past. I will refrain from a detailed explanation of the many variants of licenses issued over the last five years and simply say that the new license is a small laminated paper card that is approximately the size of a credit card. Take note that it is not an acceptable form of identification to satisfy your identification requirements for voting.

For non-residents:

Pennsylvania does not legally have a separate "non-resident license". If you apply and receive a Pennsylvania license to carry it is the same as any issued to a resident of the Commonwealth. However unlike Pennsylvania residents, non-residents must have a license to carry from their home state if it issues one and may apply in any county in the State. It is HIGHLY recommended that as a non-resident applicant you do not apply in Philadelphia county.

Unfortunately some county sheriffs are refusing to issue to non-resident applicants. Many simply will not accept the applications as they could not give a legal reason for a denial if they tried. Not accepting the applications is the only way for them to try and skirt their obligation to accept and issue licenses to non-residents. As of this time I do not have a list of all the counties refusing non-resident applications. I will endeavor to create one and update this posting when I can.

The License to Carry Advisory Committee has mandated that all applications be done in person. This is despite the fact that the committee never made this requirement according to any law or authorized regulation and the fact that this committee was never given any explicit legal authority over the license to carry issuance process. To be absolutely clear, this requirement is not found in Pennsylvania law. At this time it is recommended that if you desire a Pennsylvania license you contact the Pennsylvania sheriffs in the counties that are closest to you (with the exception of Philadelphia) and arrange a time that works for you to apply.

An easier process to carry in Pennsylvania, with the exception of school zones, is to obtain a license from a State that has reciprocity with Pennsylvania that you can obtain remotely. Once again, this is not legal advice. Non-residents that take this route should be warned that some Pennsylvania state representatives and state senators want to prohibit you from being able to carry on a reciprocal license that is not from your home state. Currently all efforts to do so have stalled but they are persistent. Also all Pennsylvania residents and nonresidents with reciprocal licenses are personally advised to study and watch the ongoing case of Commonwealth Of Pennsylvania vs. Hobson L. McKown as it could have an impact on the validity of some licenses if the case reaches a level where State precedent is set.

Documents and information on that case are available here:http://www.thecrimsonpirate.com/rtkba/archive.html

Any questions on reciprocity should be directed to the PA Attorney General: http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/crime.aspx?id=184

For both non-residents and residents it must be said again that most counties are clearly following the guidelines of state law and not abusing applicants. Unfortunately there are exceptions and some counties do abuse the citizens they are supposed to serve. Many Pennsylvania citizens are hard at work trying to enforce the uniformity requirements of state law, but the work is far from over. For now it must be widely reported that the process is fractured and that issuing agents across the state have been willfully ignoring provisions of state law for years without consequence. I will update this guide as I can to include more detailed county-by-county information and please if you see an error in fact point it out. I endeavor to be as accurate as possible with this short guide to the question of how to apply for your license to carry.
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09-08-2012, 01:00 PM
Post: #4
RE: How to get your License to Carry a Firearm
Good work.

I never got around to where you work much and haven't been there since you started. Need to drop by and say hi.
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09-08-2012, 01:01 PM (This post was last modified: 09-08-2012 01:02 PM by soberbyker.)
Post: #5
RE: How to get your License to Carry a Firearm
FWIW I made this a sticky, great job IronSight.
.
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11-05-2012, 01:46 PM
Post: #6
RE: How to get your License to Carry a Firearm
(09-08-2012 01:01 PM)soberbyker Wrote:  FWIW I made this a sticky, great job IronSight.
.

I am very glad you could recover this thread; thank you.
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11-05-2012, 01:49 PM
Post: #7
RE: How to get your License to Carry a Firearm
(11-05-2012 01:46 PM)IronSight Wrote:  
(09-08-2012 01:01 PM)soberbyker Wrote:  FWIW I made this a sticky, great job IronSight.
.

I am very glad you could recover this thread; thank you.

I saved in hopes that "things" would eventually calm down, too much good info contained to allow it to be trashed permanently.
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11-05-2012, 07:09 PM
Post: #8
RE: How to get your License to Carry a Firearm
More than one county issues licenses on the spot.
Be prepared and have all of your information with you when you show up at the sheriffs office.

In Indiana county, you walk in, fill out the form, show your ID, wait for a PICS, and get your license usually within 15mins.

Also, some counties, like Westmoreland (unless something has changed), issue licenses at places other than just the sheriffs office.

I suggest calling ahead to see what other options may be available.

Also, some sheriffs have the application online.
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11-30-2012, 12:28 AM
Post: #9
RE: How to get your License to Carry a Firearm
Got a question. I have my LTCF for York County PA, I'm moving to a different county, do I have to get my permit updated the the new address? Or just leave it be until renewal in 4 years? [/align]
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11-30-2012, 12:33 AM
Post: #10
RE: How to get your License to Carry a Firearm
(11-30-2012 12:28 AM)AndrewG23 Wrote:  Got a question. I have my LTCF for York County PA, I'm moving to a different county, do I have to get my permit updated the the new address? Or just leave it be until renewal in 4 years? [/align]


You don't have to, but you can let the sheriff know to send the update reminder to your new address, and you would renew in the new county.
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