On December 2, 2021, Governor Tom Wolf vetoed a bill that would have allowed any resident of Pennsylvania to carry a concealed firearm without undergoing a background check or obtaining a permit to carry. Wolf’s rationale for the veto was that passing a law that would allow people to carry guns without prior screening does nothing to further the goal of safe and responsible gun ownership, use and possession.

The veto of the constitutional carry bill does nothing to hinder the rights of lawful gun owners. The Pennsylvania Constitution guarantees the right to keep and bear arms. No license to carry a firearm is currently required for law abiding Pennsylvania citizens to openly carry a firearm. However, the veto keeps existing restrictions on concealed weapons in place. With a few exceptions, individuals who wish to possess a concealed firearm in public must be 21 years or older and possess a permit. To obtain a permit, a person must submit an application to the sheriff in the county where they live.

Certain people are disqualified from obtaining a permit to carry a concealed firearm in Pennsylvania. They include the following:

  • Anyone convicted of a DUI three or more times over the prior five years
  • Anyone convicted of a crime involving domestic violence
  • Anyone convicted of a felony
  • Individuals convicted of drug crimes or who are current users of illegal substances
  • Individuals with a history of mental illness or who have been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric institution
  • Illegal immigrants
  • Fugitives from justice
  • Anyone who has been dishonorably discharged from any branch of the United States armed forces

If you’re arrested and convicted of carrying a firearm without a license, your penalty will depend in part on whether or not you were eligible to possess a valid license in the first place. If ineligible, you could be convicted of a felony and sentenced to up to seven years in prison. If you could have obtained a valid license but didn’t do so, you could be convicted of a misdemeanor and sentenced to up to five years in prison. An experienced criminal defense attorney can seek the most lenient punishment available under the circumstances.

If you believe your gun rights have been violated, if you or a loved one has been arrested for a gun crime or you have questions about lawfully carrying a firearm, Attorney Matthew R. Zatko in Somerset is available to assist you. Arrange a consultation by calling 814-443-1631 or contact me online.