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Requirements for buying a firearm in Pennsylvania

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WEST HANOVER TOWNSHIP, DAUPHIN COUNTY, P.A. --- Buying a firearm in Pennsylvania depends solely on what kind.

For a handgun, Joseph Staudt, owner of Staudt's Gun Shop, said nationally, the buyer must be 21 years old with possession of a Pennsylvania issued ID.

"If you're a Maryland resident or an Ohio resident and you came in and wanted to purchase a handgun, we would tell you we can't do it," said Staudt.

To buy a rifle, shotgun or long gun, Staudt saif the difference is the buyer can be 18 or older.

However, no matter what type of firearm, all roads lead to the paperwork.

"Whether you're buying a rifle, shotgun or your purchasing a handgun, the background check is the same," said Staudt.

Every state requires a federal background check through the National Instant Check system from a 4473 form.

In Pennsylvania, the background checks go a step further.

The commonwealth has a "Record of Sale" form that requires further information from someone buying a handgun.

Also, the Pennsylvania Instant Check system, ran in conjunction with the NIC, denies buyers with misdemeanors that the federal check does not.

"If you have three DUIs in a five year period, you cannot purchase a firearm in Pennsylvania," said Staudt.

The forms include questionnaires of personal information and criminal history.

However, Staudt said shops run into a case where someone with a clear background check will try to buy a gun for another person who legally cannot, known as a "straw purchase."

"We've identified those here and notified the State Police. Several of them have been prosecuted," said Staudt.

Trooper Brent Miller with PSP said "Unsworn Falsification to Law Enforcement," or lying on a background check form, is very common for investigators.

Staudt said it's legal in Pennsylvania for two individuals to sell a firearm without a background check.

However, it is illegal to knowingly sell a firearm to someone who cannot legally purchase one, otherwise.

Should two individuals agree to a sale, they must get approval at any gun shop.

"Both individuals have to come into the gun shop and both be present with valid IDs. Then, the purchaser does the background check but then there's a small portion that has to be filled out by the seller," said Straudt.

"They'll figure out what was going on with the attempted purchase and why the individuals was denied. Then, it will go to the district attorney's office for a decision and charges will be filed," said Trooper Miller.

Staudt said a clean background check can come back within a minute with an average check taking about five to ten minutes.

But if the check comes back with a flag or a "yes" answer regarding criminal history, Staudt said the purchase stops.

"There's no sale that's more important than public safety," said Staudt.

Staudt's Gun Shop has also taken extra precautions every night with their firearms due to the slew of gun shop burglaries across central Pennsylvania.

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