Pennsylvania, like most states requires people to have permit to carry a concealed firearm as regulated by the following statute:
- (a) Offense defined.--Any person who carries a firearm in any vehicle or any person who carries a firearm concealed on or about his person, except in his place of abode or fixed place of business, without a valid and lawfully issued license under this chapter commits a felony of the third degree.
This license can be in the form of Pennsylvania's "License To Carry Firearms" (LTCF) or a permit issued by another state that Pennsylvania recognizes as valid through a reciprocity agreement.
OBTAINING A PENNSYLVANIA LTCF
The process for obtaining an LTCF in Pennsylvania is excellent due to the fact that the process is very thorough in making sure that permits are not granted to people that may be irresponsible or pose a danger to others (minors, convicted felons, domestic abusers, etc.) while making it very simple for trustworthy, law-abiding people to obtain one quickly and cheaply.
Pennsylvania LTCF's are available to both residents and non-residents and are valid for 5 years. For residents, the applications are handled by their county sheriff's office, with the exception of Philadelphia where they are handled by the Gun Permits & Tracking Unit of the Philadelphia Police Department. It should be noted that permits issued by one county must be honored by all counties including Philadelphia regardless of rumors to the contrary.
The actual application process itself is very simple and consists of acquiring an application, and a passport-sized photo, filling it out, paying the fee (which can vary from county to county) and submitting it. In some counties (such as Philadelphia) the application must be submitted in person and they may do a quick and basic interview. Once the application is received the entity responsible for handling it will do a background check on you and generally verify who you are. They may contact the references you have provided on the application although many times it will not be necessary. Pennsylvania is a "shall-issue" state in regards to LTCF's, meaning the entity processing your application is required to approve it unless they can prove you are disqualified based on the law. This is very important to prevent localities from simply denying people based on political, or prejudicial biases. Additionally by state law the application must be approved or denied in 45 days (although some offices will use "business days"). Again, this is done to prevent localities from claiming they issue permits, but never actually processing them for political or prejudicial reasons.