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Know the Laws: Pennsylvania

UPDATED May 25, 2017

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Below is information about state gun laws in Pennsylvania.  A PFA order or criminal conviction may make it illegal for an abuser to have a gun.  However, in addition to these state-specific laws, there are also federal gun laws that could apply.  To fully understand all of the legal protections available, it is important that you also read the Federal Gun Laws pages.

Please consider getting in touch with a domestic violence advocate in your community for more information on gun laws in your area.  Go to our PA Where to Find Help to find an organization near you.

Guns and Criminal Convictions

back to topIf the abuser has been convicted of a crime, can s/he keep or buy a gun?

Under Pennsylvania state law, a person cannot have or buy a gun if s/he has been convicted of a number of felonies, including murder, assault, stalking, kidnapping, rape, arson, burglary, and robbery.*  For a full list of the felonies, go to 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6105, section (b) on our PA State Statutes page.

In addition to the felonies mentioned above, it may be illegal for a convicted criminal to have a gun if:

  • he was convicted of a crime and is a fugitive from justice;
  • he was convicted of certain drug crimes; or
  • he was convicted of driving under the influence three or more times within a five-year period.**
Federal laws, which apply to all states, also restrict a person's right to have a gun if s/he has been convicted of certain crimes.  Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

* 18 Pa. C.S.A. §6105(b)
** 18 Pa. C.S.A. §6105(c)

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back to topHow can I find out if the abuser has been convicted of a crime?

Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are open to the public, but they are not always easy to access.  If you know the exact courthouse where the abuser may have been convicted, you can go to the courthouse and ask the court clerk for access to those records.

Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are also kept in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).  However, no one other than law enforcement officials and licensed firearm dealers are allowed to search the NICS.  Your local police department may be willing to search NICS for you if you ask, but they are not required to do so.

To read more about the NICS, please see the question, What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?

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