Many Pennsylvania residents own firearms for a number of reasons, ranging from self-defense to hunting to sporting and recreational use and more. While owning a firearm is a constitutionally protected right in the United States, it is a right that comes with a weighty responsibility. All firearms are capable of being used for violent purposes. Even a firearm designed for weekend target shooting can kill someone if wielded by an individual with evil intentions. It is every responsible gun owner’s worst nightmare to have their weapon stolen and then used in a crime.
In Pennsylvania, there is no law requiring gun owners to store and secure their firearms or report stolen firearms to the police. That being said, it may still be a good idea to report a stolen firearm to the police so they can find out who stole it and potentially prevent a violent crime. Note, however, that this may result in some consequences to you, including revocation of a license to carry firearms. The best way to prevent your firearm from being stolen is to make sure it is safely secured at all times that it is not in use. Additionally, criminal penalties are significantly higher for crimes that are carried out with a stolen firearm.
Get a free case review from our Philadelphia gun crime defense lawyers from The Law Offices of Lloyd Long by calling (215) 302-0171.
Do I Need to Report a Stolen Firearm to the Police in Pennsylvania?
You do not need to report a stolen firearm to the police in Pennsylvania. There is no law requiring private citizens to do so. In 2020, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court held in City of Philadelphia vs. Armstrong that a law requiring Pennsylvania gun owners to report stolen firearms to the police within 24 hours of finding out they were stolen was not consistent with the Pennsylvania constitution. While groups in favor of gun control and regulation are presently challenging this ruling, as of writing this article, there is no requirement to report a stolen firearm in Pennsylvania.
Should I Report a Stolen Firearm in Pennsylvania?
Although it is not required by law, you should seriously consider reporting a stolen firearm to the police anyway. However, there may be some consequences to you for doing so. We will talk about the pros and cons of reporting a stolen firearm below. If you have any concerns about your particular situation, our Philadelphia gun crime defense lawyers can help.
License to Carry Firearms
One of the main reasons people hesitate to report stolen firearms in Pennsylvania is fear that their license to carry firearms will be revoked. In Pennsylvania, a license to carry firearms (LTCF) is what allows Pennsylvanians to transport their firearms where they please.
The transportation of firearms is extremely limited in Pennsylvania without this license. Per 18 Pa.C.S. § 6106, you cannot carry a firearm without a license outside of your home for any reason. There are some exceptions for law enforcement, members of the military on duty, and, more commonly, civilians, people going to and from a target range or other shooting location with an unloaded firearm. However, the exception for going to a shooting range is extremely strict. You must go directly to and from the shooting range. If, for example, you stop to pick up your kids from school on the way to the range, you have violated this exception. For that reason, many firearm owners have a LTCF even if they do not ever intend to open carry or conceal a firearm on their person.
Revocation of License
Licenses to carry firearms can be revoked in Pennsylvania “for good cause” per 18 Pa. C.S. § 6109(i). Things that constitute “good cause” to revoke a firearms license include drug offenses, dishonorable discharge from the armed forces, and, notably for our purposes, someone “likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety.” There is no wording in that statute that quantifies what acting in a way dangerous to public safety is, but it is possible that declining to report that your firearm has been stolen is something that is dangerous to public safety.
Reporting Stolen Firearms
For that reason, it is probably a good idea to report that a firearm you own has been stolen, even if that may result in the revocation of your license for not storing your firearm securely enough. It may be easier to fight against a revocation for that reason than a revocation based on a failure to report a stolen firearm that later gets used in a crime.
Charges for Using a Stolen Firearm in a Crime in Philadelphia
If you commit a crime using a stolen firearm, the penalties will be significantly more severe than they would be had the crime been committed without a stolen firearm. First, under 18 Pa. C.S. § 3903, theft of a firearm is a second-degree felony in Pennsylvania, with a possible penalty of up to 10 years in prison. Second, having a stolen firearm on your person will be in violation of most protective orders or probation terms. So, if the mere presence of a stolen firearm can damage probation proceedings, committing a crime with one is that much more detrimental. Finally, if you are already a “person not to possess” – someone who is not allowed to own firearms, you can be charged with an additional crime of having a firearm when you should not if you carry out a criminal act with a stolen firearm.
Call Our Gun Crime Defense Lawyers
The Law Offices of Lloyd Long has Philadelphia gun criminal defense lawyers ready to review your case when you call (215) 302-0171.