I’ve written a number of blogs on the different types of firearm and weapons charges in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and the criminal consequences associated with those criminal offenses. There are many situations however, where, a person legally owns a gun but illegally carries it outside of their home or place of business. The most common situation is that of a concealed carry weapon (CCW).
The Right to Carry in PA vs. NJ
Pennsylvania and New Jersey allow individuals to obtain license to carry guns and firearms. While it is much easier to obtain a license to carry in Pennsylvania than it is in New Jersey, both states maintain laws regarding a concealed carrier’s obligation to inform law enforcement of the weapon if they are stopped. Please remember that this information will not help those who choose to illegally possess a gun or firearm in Pennsylvania (VUFA Section 6106 or NJ 2C:39-5), but only those with lawful permits who have gone through the process to obtain them. This information will also not help those who are prohibited from possessing a firearm (VUFA 6105).
The Right to Inform of a Concealed Carry in PA & NJ –Reciprocity
In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, a person is only obligated to inform a police officer of their concealed carry weapon if asked by the officer or other law enforcement personnel. This is different in states like Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina, and Texas, where there is a requirement to inform even if you aren’t asked about it.
Please keep in mind that the obligation to inform will not exempt an out-of-state driver, with an out-of-state permit that is not recognized in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, from criminal consequences.
As I discussed in previous blog articles, Pennsylvania, unlike New Jersey, has reciprocity with a number of states including West Virginia, Texas, Michigan, and North Carolina. Pennsylvania does not have reciprocity with New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Maryland, and Ohio, which all border the Commonwealth.
What to do if stopped with your CWW? Be Prepared but don’t consent to a search!
In most situations, law enforcement will ask if drivers and their passengers have any weapons on them. This type of question will obligate the driver and the passengers to inform the officer of the CCW. If you are stopped while carrying, I recommend the following:
- Turn off the radio or any music.
- Turn off the engine.
- Place both of your hands on the steering wheel before the officer approaches and until the officer requests your driver’s license and registration.
The only state where there is no obligation to inform the officer of a concealed carry is Georgia. If you are in a position where you are concealed carrying, be ready to provide the officer with your permit. Finally, while you are legally obligated to inform the officer of your CCW, you have no obligation to permit them to search you or the vehicle. While the police may perform a warrantless search of your car, it is extremely important that you never provide consent to do so and only provide that information which you are legally obligated to provide.
In Pennsylvania, the following firearms require a license:
- A pistol or revolver with a barrel less than 15”
- A shotgun with a barrel less than 18”
- A rifle with a barrel less than 18”
- Any firearm with an overall length of less than 26’
- Any loaded firearm if the magazine is within the firearm
You don’t need a license to carry a firearm in your house, place of business, or if it is not concealed (open carry). The following cannot obtain licenses in Pennsylvania:
- Convicted felons
- Persons with declared incapacity or involuntarily committed
- Three DUI’s within 5 years
- Fugitives from justice
- Those with Protection from Abuse orders against them
- Illegal aliens
You can’t conceal carry in the following locations:
- Post Office
- Federal property
- Court facilities
- State parks
- Private property—if instructed/posted
For more great information on gun offenses in Pennsylvania, please consider downloading my free book—What Everyone Should Know About Guns, Drugs & Defense Lawyers in Pennsylvania.