As a criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia, I must tell you that when faced with gun charges in Pennsylvania, especially in Philadelphia, it is crucial that you know your rights and the legal requirements of owning a firearm.

Definition of “Firearm”

Surprisingly, Pennsylvania law does not define a firearm as clearly as we might think. A firearm can be a pistol, rifle, or shotgun, but not every gun is a firearm per state law.  The Uniform Firearms Act, Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Section 6102, states that the firearm is determined by the length of the gun barrel and the length of the entire weapon. If a gun does not fit those requirements, then it is not considered a firearm under the law. It is important to note that some rifles do not meet Pennsylvania’s description of a firearm.

In Philadelphia, individuals who have a gun but do not have a license will not be charged with a crime unless the gun meets the state’s legal definition of a firearm.


If you live in Pennsylvania, you do not have to have a license to own a firearm, and you can legally keep a firearm in your home and place of business for personal protection. If you live in Philadelphia, whether you need a license to own a gun is more complicated, so it is important to check with someone who knows the law.

If you want to carry a firearm in your car or on your person, you must get a license. If you carry a firearm in your vehicle or on your person without a license, you will be guilty of violating Section 6106 of the Uniform Firearms Act. To get a license, you must be at least 21 years old and apply for the license through the Sheriff of your county.

If you live in Philadelphia, the weapon must be registered with the police chief if you want the privilege of concealed carry.

Open carry can be confusing under Pennsylvania law. On the one hand, regulations do not allow open carry in the state. On the other hand, open carry is not prohibited. Because of these circumstances, many people get the impression that a firearm can be carried in the open.

Philadelphia Gun Charges 

It is important to remember that different Pennsylvania laws apply differently to the various parts of the state. For example, Section 6108 of the Uniform Firearms Act prohibits people from possessing a gun while on a public street or public property without a license, but Section 6108 only applies to carrying a firearm in a “city of the first class.”

Philadelphia is the only “city of the first class” in Pennsylvania, which means the law prohibits possessing a gun while on a public street or public property without a license in Philadelphia.

Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney 

Every case is different, so it’s important to work with an attorney who knows Pennsylvania gun laws and has helped defendants with their own gun cases. An experienced criminal defense attorney like that will be your best choice.

Contact me today for a FREE consultation to find out how I can help.