What you need to know about open carry in Pennsylvania

As Americans, we all have the right to bear arms under the 2nd Amendment. But a recent photograph posted to Facebook has people wondering if Pennsylvanians have the right to openly carry them in public.

At first glance, the photo is a man on a motorcycle, but the gun on his hip in open view is not a sight you see everyday.

Openly carrying a firearm is perfectly legal in Pennsylvania as long as the person is a law-abiding citizen and is allowed to own a gun.

“You may carry it openly and notoriously,” said Steven Breit, FOX43 legal analyst. “You may carry it for all to see. It may be offensive to some, but it’s certainly legal.”

There are exceptions to the law. For instance, if you’re inside a vehicle, you cannot have a loaded gun unless you have license to carry. Otherwise, you have to unload your gun and put it in your trunk.

“When you climb in your car, it becomes a concealed weapon,” said Thomas Weimann, owner of Backwoods Outfitters, just outside of Columbia.

Only in Philadelphia are people required to have a concealed weapons permit to openly carry in that city.

You also can’t open carry in any school, courthouse, federal building, state park or detention center.

Weimann has owned Backwoods Outfitters for two decades. He has found that many people don’t know that Pennsylvania is an open-carry state.

Weimann said choosing to open carry isn’t an easy decision and one that may invite unwanted attention.

“You’re going to spend a lot more time probably talking to the officers doing their jobs,” he said.

To read more about open carry in Pennsylvania, click here.

18 comments

  • MyTakeOnIt

    You'll have people thinking you're a nut job ready to blow.

    I did not find this article as informative as I would have liked.
    Are specific businesses able to prohibit you from entering with firearms? Like banks and bars. Is the biker in the photo violating any law since he is on a vehicle? Are there any safety precautions that the carrier must do to ensure it does not accidentally fire? Any documentation needed to open carry?
    You can talk to five people at random and get five different answers.

    • Lynne Radcliffe

      You could go to the PAFOA link provided, or the PA forum of opencarry.org, to learn your state's laws.

      Can businesses prohibit entry? Yes, though it's a pretty stupid idea to advertise to criminals that you, your staff, & your customers are defenseless. Plus you're turning away the people who are probably the most law-abiding customers you could have.

      Is he violating any laws? No. If he's within 3 blocks of the edge of a school property he'd have to have a carry license.

      Any safety precautions? Keeping it in a regular holster that covers the trigger is plenty. For open carry, it's a good idea to have some sort of retention. It's not going to go off on its own. The trigger has to be pulled.

      Documentation? Do you need documentation to walk down the street talking with friends? People carrying openly are also exercising protected civil rights with which the gov't is not allowed to interfere. The only exceptions are being in a car or within 1000' of a school; then a carry license is required.

  • Copper

    MyTakeOnIt, I am a police officer in Pennsylvania and will do my best to answer your questions.
    Specific businesses can ask anyone to leave that they do not want there as it is private property, this includes people who open carry.The biker is not in violation as they firearm is not being concealed. The second he uses his jacket to cover up that weapon, however, he needs a concealed permit. As far as a weapon accidentally discharging, that's the stuff of Hollywood. A firearm, even if there is no safety mechanism, will not accidentally fire so long as it is being carried in a holster that was designed for it and being held by someone who knows the basics of firearm safety. Guns do not "go off," despite what the anti-gun people would have you believe. Also, there is no documentation needed to open carry in PA. A police officer can ask to speak with someone he encounters who is open-carrying but he has no right to detain him based solely upon the fact that the person is carrying a firearm, unless that person is in one of the above listed prohibited places where the person carrying the gun would be in violation of the law.
    Hope that answers your questions.

    • MyTakeOnIt

      Message received.

      Still all kind of confusing. It appears that obtaining all possible permits/licenses will allow someone to open carry or conceal on their person or in their vehicles/homes/businesses. However, interstate traveling does not guarantee that the laws/permits/licenses will be the same or be valid.

      As we see from the comments below, there are many interpretations on what the "rules" are. I'm sure there are plenty of people breaking the law daily and do not realize it. I'm also sure there are many who do not care about the details either, as long as they don't get caught.

      • Lynne Radcliffe

        You're right. It is confusing and there is no national reciprocity for carry rights as there is for driving or marriage (or religion, or speech, or any other civil rights).

        And you're right that there are people who don't care about laws. They're called criminals.

    • Lynne Radcliffe

      Thank you for being a rights-supporting peace officer.
      I wish there were more people like you.

    • KnowYourRights

      I wish every officer understood the law and respected it like you do. Bravo to you. This was an informative post and I hope that many people are able to read and understand the laws that most know nothing about.

      Thank You!

  • knight0334

    This article needs updated. To have a "firearm", which is defined as a handgun, SBS, or SBR, in, on, or upon a vehicle requires a license whether it is loaded or unloaded unless you are exempt under Title 18, Chapter 61, Subchapter 6106(b). There are only a very few exceptions.

    Vehicle is defined for Title 18, under PA Title 1, Chapter 19, Subchapter 1991 as: “Vehicle.” A conveyance in or on which persons or property may be carried.

  • Chris

    MyTakeOnIt, here is a great resource for all firearm laws. This is the page for PA.

    amgoa [dot] org/Pennsylvania-Gun-Laws

  • Mike Stollenwerk

    Actually PA law is more strict when it comes to handguns in vehicles that the article suggests – unless you are on an interstate journey out of PA, or coming back in, or unless you hold a license to carry firearms (or sportsmens' permit) from PA or have ANY state's handgun carry permit (even if that state's permit is not officially recognized generally for handgun carry n PA), you CANNOT legally possess a handgun even in your trunk. Learn more at OpenCarry.org.

    One more time – yes, anyone with ANY state's handgun carry permit, including a person who resides in PA but has say a Florida or Utah mail order handgun carry permit, may carry loaded handguns in vehicles in PA – that state's permit does not have to be on the PA AG's reciprocity list.

  • guest

    Listen to legal advice in this article or the comments at your peril.
    I don't know where to begin…

  • krf1974

    After living in Phoenix for 10 years, seeing a gun holstered on the hip in a public place is very common.

    I’ve been to bars & restaurants that have gun checks. So seeing this does not offend me in the least bit

      • Lynne Radcliffe

        How would it be complicated?
        The person acting like a criminal (harming other people, maybe wearing a mask, trying to make off with the money from the cash register, etc.) is the bad guy.
        The people with holsters are the good guys.
        And despite the panty-pooping dreams of the anti-gun people, there aren't likely to be several lawfully-armed citizens present when a crime takes place. (Of course, there won't be any police.)

Comments are closed.