Can I Carry a Gun in My Car?


If you’re carrying firearms in Pennsylvania, you must understand the rules. Even law-abiding citizens carrying a loaded gun for self-defense can be charged with unlawful possession and face severe consequences.

If you’re carrying firearms in Pennsylvania, you must understand the rules. Even law-abiding citizens carrying a loaded gun for self-defense can be charged with unlawful possession and face severe consequences.

If you plan to buy, sell, or use a weapon recreationally outside of your home, you must follow the state’s laws for carrying a gun in your vehicle to avoid gun charges.

If you are arrested for having a loaded gun in your motor vehicle, you need experienced legal representation to help you navigate the criminal justice system. Very Law in Pittsburgh takes an aggressive stance to defend every client. In this blog post, you will learn more about how to legally carry a firearm in your car and how an attorney can help you with a strong defense should you find yourself in legal trouble.

Person Holding A Gun

What Are the Rules for Carrying Firearms in Cars in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, having a handgun in your car is considered carrying a concealed weapon. Violation of the statutes makes it a third-degree felony unless you have a Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms (LTCF).

Every state has its own rules on gun concealment, which can make Pennsylvania’s gun laws more confusing since many states are not this strict. In other states, you can legally transport a handgun, rifle, or another type of firearm no matter the status of your carry permit.

Only a few exceptions exist for driving with a gun in the car in this state, including those carrying unloaded non-NFA regulated long guns, anyone going to or from target shooting without stopping anywhere else, officers or employers of the U.S. who are authorized to carry, bank employees protecting money, firearm manufacturers or dealers transporting for business, people hunting or fishing with  a valid license for these sports, those with a valid carry permit from another state, and anyone with who received a permit to carry within the past six months and are eligible to renew.

One of the most important things to know is that these rules mentioned above only apply to unloaded firearms. The cartridges or ammunition must be stored away from the gun.

What to Know About a Concealed Carry Permit

Gun owners should know that a concealed carry permit in this state is the same as the LTCF in your car or another vehicle. Therefore, you must have this license to carry a concealed weapon. Concealed carry in other states often requires a separate permit, but that is not the case in Pennsylvania.

Before you can apply for a firearm license, you have to be eligible. You will need to have references and a background check. Federal law also regulates gun ownership to a degree, such as restricting ownership of certain firearms.

As for those in Pennsylvania, you must be 21 years of age or older to apply. You also need to have a clean criminal record and possess no traits that could make you ineligible. Your completed application must be submitted in your home county to the sheriff or chief of police.

You will also need to pay the applicable fee. The background check will be conducted by the sheriff within 45 days of submitting your application. This concealed permit will grant anyone who is approved a period of five years from the point of issue, though the state reserves the right to revoke it at any time for criminal activity or other concerns.

Who Is Ineligible for a Concealed Firearm?

Restrictions apply that align with the federal regulations to lawfully carry a gun. If any of the following apply, you will be deemed ineligible to have a LTCF in Pennsylvania:

  • You were convicted in any court or are a fugitive
  • You are addicted to controlled substances
  • You were hospitalized in a mental institution or deemed as mentally unstable in court
  • You are not a United States citizen, an illegal alien, or previously gave up your U.S. citizenship
  • You were dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces
  • You are currently under a court-mandated restraining order
  • You have a record of any misdemeanors or domestic violence convictions

When You Can Get Arrested for Having a Gun in Your Car

While the Commonwealth does allow you to have your unloaded gun in your car, there are rules and regulations. For example, you can go to or from target practice. If you go and come back as you should, there is no issue. However, problems arise when you decide to make stops along the way. Simply running into the supermarket to pick up some coffee on your way home is a violation of the statute.

The best way to avoid a problem if you plan to drive with your gun in your car is to get an LTCF. With this license, you will not need to worry that you are violating the concealed carry requirements.

Police Officer Standing With A Police Vest

What to Do If You Are Arrested for Carrying a Concealed Firearm

If you wind up getting arrested for a firearms violation in Pennsylvania, contact a criminal attorney who is familiar with these laws. When you carry a firearm in this state, you must understand the law fully, or else you could wind up breaking it without even realizing it.

Simple mistakes have the potential to cost you your freedom, and the penalties can range widely in severity, depending on the violation. It could be a third-degree misdemeanor, punishable with up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine, or it could be a first-degree felony, punishable with up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

You need a strong legal defense in these matters. A skilled attorney can help you avoid charges, pursue reduced sentencing, or fight to maintain your innocence in court. The goal is to protect your right to own and carry a firearm. Very Law has experience in representing those who have been in similar situations and works to protect your freedom.

We Are Here to Serve You

Think you may have a case? Let’s talk.

Schedule a Consultation