Open Carry in Pennsylvania

Open Carry refers to whether an individual is permitted to carry a handgun that is visible.  Some states permit open carry and others do not.  In contrast, many states offer concealed weapons permits.  These allow individuals to have a handgun that is not open and visible.  It is important to understand what your states laws are and how and where you are permitted to have weapons in or near your possession.

Joshua Prince, a 3L law student has complied this information on Open Carry in Pennsylvania. This information was modified by comments received by a retired deputy sheriff who noted that Pittsburgh is a second of the second class and not of the first like Philadelphia is.

To the surprise of many residents, as well as law enforcement officers, individuals who are not prohibited from owning firearms may openly carry a handgun on or about his/her person without a license (18 PA.C.S. § 6106). This has been upheld by the PA Supreme Court in Commonwealth v. Ortiz and Commonwealth v. Hawkins. However, there are some limitations on open carry. Specifically:

1. the handgun must be in plain sight;
2. the individual cannot open carry in a vehicle (18 PA.C.S. § 6106);
3. in cities of the first class (Philadelphia) and Pittsburgh a city of the second class; and
4. where prohibited by statute.

Currently Pennsylvania statute § 6107 prohibits open carry during a state emergency and in the city of Philadelphia without a License to Carry Firearms (LTCF) otherwise known as  a concealed carry permit (18 PA.C.S. § 6108).  

There are some places which are off-limits in Pennsylvania, whether you are open or concealed carrying.  These include:

1. All Federal Facilities (Unless Authorized);
2. All Court Facilities;
3. State Parks (except while in a vehicle);
4. Adult and Juvenile Detention Facilities; and
5. Airport Terminals (secure areas only).

The issue of both open and concealed carry on school property has not been fully determined but it appears that it would not be allowed under Pennsylvania statute 912 where it states that possession of “a weapon in the buildings of, on the grounds of, or in any conveyance providing transportation to or from any elementary or secondary publicly-funded educational institution, any elementary or secondary private school licensed by the Department of Education or any elementary or secondary parochial school” is a misdemeanor of the first degree.

However, the statute does allow “a defense that the weapon is possessed and used in conjunction with a lawful supervised school activity or course or is possessed for other lawful purpose.” 

It should be noted that Pennsylvania allows the concealed (with a LTCF) or open carry of a firearm in an establishment that sells or serves alcohol.

Anyone considering open or concealed carry should check out the website and download the Open Carry brochure.

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