The law surrounding the possession of firearms is one of the more complex areas of criminal law. Generally speaking, there are three types of issues we see most often: 1) Carrying a firearm without a license; 2) Possession of a firearm by a person who is not lawfully able to possess a firearm; and 3) Falsification of documents in the attempt to purchase a firearm.
Each type of case is unique and the law as it is written makes it nearly impossible for the average citizen to understand. A brief overview of the three major areas is further described below.
Carrying a Firearm without a License
In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, if you own a firearm, you are well advised to obtain a license to conceal carry. In almost every situation other than in your home or in your primary place of employment, you are in violation of the law if you carry a firearm without a license to do so. In many cases, people are eligible to have a license but for some reason do not obtain one. Even if you are simply transporting a firearm in your vehicle from your home to the shooting range, if you are stopped by the police you will likely be charged with a Felony Carrying a Firearm Without a License. It will then be up to you and your attorney to prove that 1) you were eligible to have a license to carry (which decreases the grading to a Misdemeanor); and/or 2) that you were actually on your way to or from the shooting range and that you were transporting the firearm properly.
Person Not to Possess a Firearm
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has very strict sentencing in place for people found to be in possession of a firearm who have been deemed ineligible to possess (through criminal conviction, Protection From Abuse Order, mental health commitment, dishonorable discharge, the list goes on). This is very different from merely possessing a firearm without a license. This type of offense requires that you have been placed in a category which excludes you from possessing a firearm in any location at any time for any purpose.
Because individuals charged with this crime often times have higher prior record scores, the sentencing guidelines generally suggest a period of incarceration of not less than 2 years. Depending on the individual's prior record score, the maximum sentence can be as much as 5 to 10 years.
Falsification of Purchasing Documents
Whether a person is purchasing a hand gun, a rifle, or a shotgun, both the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Federal Government require that the buyer complete multiple forms which ask questions about the buyer's history. In the event a buyer makes a mistake on one of those forms (whether knowingly, intentionally, or negligently), the individual can be nearly certain that they will be charged with a Felony.
Always read these documents very closely and never guess on an answer. Always keep in mind that if you have any criminal conviction whatsoever in your history, that you may accidentally answer one of the questions incorrectly, thereby exposing yourself to criminal charges.