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Thread: Looking at PA OC Law

  1. #1
    Regular Member mspgunner's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Ellisville, Missouri, USA

    Looking at PA OC Law

    TOPIC: Open Carry of a Firearm in Pennsylvania

    PURPOSE: To provide guidance in calls for services that involve a person who is open carrying a pistol in a holster.


    Pennsylvania is an “open carry” state for firearms. That means that there is a presumption that carrying a loaded handgun in an exposed holster, for instance, is legal unless specifically prohibited by statute. Open carry of handgun while on foot does not require a license unless such person is in a City of First Class (18 Pa C.S. § 6108) or in areas of declared emergency. On the other hand, concealed carry of a handgun out in public, or any carrying of a handgun in any vehicle, is generally illegal without governmental authority (such as a license to carry firearms or a police commission, see RCW 18 Pa C.S. s. 6106(b) and 6109(a) for more information on those exceptions).

    It is a felony crime to possess or carry any firearm (concealed or in the open) by convicted felons and convicted domestic violence offenders (see 18 Pa C.S. § 6105) and minors (see 18 Pa C.S. §6110.1) In addition to that, below are the portions of the selected laws that specifically illegalize the carrying of firearms. Underlines are added for emphasis. In order to save space, several large portions of the laws were not included; therefor, officers should refer to the complete Code and be familiar with the details of each. All sections are in chapter 18 unless otherwise noted.

    Unless there is an actual possibility of threat against an officer or others (something besides the open carrying), taking someone's firearm and handling it should be taken only under dire circumstances. Due to unfamiliarity with the differing forms of actions on firearms, there is a possibility of accidental discharge.

    Unless there is a direct danger or threat, the appropriate reaction to open carry in vehicles, in a declared emergency, or in a city of First Class is to ask for a carry license. Any form of felony stop procedure for open carry by itself is unwarranted. - Commonwealth v. Hawkins (1997)

    Officers should not editorialize against open carry by private citizens in any way shape or form, or in any way suggest that a person should conceal their firearm. Suggestions and editorializing against lawful open carry may be interpreted as “commands” by civilians who are lawfully open carrying and may subject officers to complaints filed against them, as well as possible legal action against themselves and the department. The significance of this is borne in §5301.

    § 5301. Official oppression.
    A person acting or purporting to act in an official capacity or taking advantage of such actual or purported capacity commits a misdemeanor of the second degree if, knowing that his conduct is illegal, he: subjects another to arrest, detention, search, seizure, mistreatment, dispossession, assessment, lien or other infringement of personal or property rights; or denies or impedes another in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power or immunity.

    ADVISORY NOTE: This advisory in its entirety serves as notice that open carry is lawful in Pennsylvania, and it is a right that is protected by state law, and by Article 1, Section 21 of the state constitution. Unless there is actual illegal conduct being committed, mistreatment by law enforcement officers of those who are lawfully open carrying may be subject to second degree misdemeanor charges. If you have a personal opinion against open carry by private civilians, there is no reason to share that opinion or belief with such a person that you are making contact with, as it is unprofessional. If a person is open carrying on foot, and unless such person is known to you for certain to not be allowed to possess firearms per §6105 or §6110.1, or is violating §912/§913, there is no reason for anything other than voluntary contact with said person, and even then must exercise their judgement to make said contact. If a person is doing so in a vehicle, or another time or place that requires a license or a statutory exemption, contact may be made specifically to ascertain if such person is exempted per §6106(b) or §6109. If they are determined to be licensed or exempted, the officer must allow the person to continue without delay. See: Commonwealth v. Hawkins.
    If you pull it, you use it. If you pull it and you don't use it, you've done some thing wrong and you might not get another chance. Think about it before you pack it!
    I worked 24/7 for 2A OC rights! Don't like what I did? Try it yourself, it was my full time job!
    Certified NRA Range Safety Officer - RSO

  2. #2
    Regular Member Broondog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Ste. Gen County, MO, , USA
    more OC friendly states need language such as this made available to their law enforcement community. it would save a lot of grief and animosity towards both sides.
    I'm the one who's gotta die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want to.
    Jimi Hendrix

    NRA Benefactor Member & 03 FFL

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