Over the last few months Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane has been altering and amending Pennsylvania reciprocity agreements like a child who can’t decide on which candy to select from the candy aisle. It appears her intent is to require Pennsylvania residents to obtain a Pennsylvania permit prior to obtaining an out of state permit (such as a Utah, Florida or Arizona permit). Apparently some PA residents were only obtaining a Florida permit and never obtaining a PA permit and she wanted to put an end to that. If that’s the case, it would make sense for her to do that as it is already required by Pennsylvania law that residents obtain their home state permit in order to carry in their home state. However, whether intentionally or unintentionally, AG Kane has also been restricting the rights of non-Pennsylvania residents (such as Maryland, New York and New Jersey) to carry in Pennsylvania by declaring all non-resident permits held by those individuals invalid in PA.
Back in February AG Kane invalidated all non-resident Florida permits in Pennsylvania by issuing a “notice”. She then turned her attention to Arizona permit holders in May, and finally did the same with the Utah permit a few weeks ago. The way it currently sits, Utah, Arizona and Florida permits held by non-residents of those states are no longer valid in Pennsylvania. Residents of Utah, Arizona or Florida would still be able to carry in PA with those permits as this change does not affect them. Also, this change does not affect PA residents so long as they have their PA permit.
There is, however, some pieces of good news for those affected by this decision who are looking to continue carrying in PA. First, AG Kane has irritated a lot of people (including members of the legislature) by unilaterally amending the reciprocity agreements. It is rumored that several members of the legislature are drafting law changes which would reinstate the reciprocity and prohibit AG Kane from further restricting the right to carry for hundreds of thousands of people. We’ll keep you updated on that progress.
In the mean time, there are 3 ways in which non-residents can still carry in Pennsylvania.
Option 1: Obtain a Pennsylvania non-resident permit:
- The process for obtaining a PA non-resident permit is very simple IF you already have your home state concealed carry permit. If you already have your home state permit you simply take in a photocopy of your permit and photo ID to any PA sheriff and pay the $20 application fee. They will then mail you your permit when it is ready. The problem, obviously, is Maryland, New York and New Jersey residents have an extremely difficult time obtaining their home state permit and thus the majority aren’t eligible to apply for a PA non-resident permit. For those people, options 2 and 3 will work best.
- Update: A reader in the comments below has informed us that some PA sheriff’s are giving non-residents a hard time when they apply for permits. We recommend calling the sheriff before you make the drive to verify there won’t be any problems.
Option 2: Open Carry
- In PA anyone who is of legal age and otherwise not prohibited from possessing a firearm may open carry their loaded handgun without any kind of permit statewide except for in the city of Philadelphia. That means a NJ, MD or NY resident could simply open carry their gun and not worry about what AG Kane does with the reciprocity agreements. Open carry is a constitutional right in PA (everywhere except in Philly, go figure) and you don’t need any kind of permit to do it. For reasons we’ve mentioned in the past, we’re big open carry advocates and encourage non-residents to do it until this mess gets sorted out. If AG Kane doesn’t like a bunch of non-residents open carrying in her state then she can change the reciprocity agreements back to the way they worked before. If you plan on open carrying in PA (or carrying anywhere, ever) you should already have the Legal Heat app or book. For those of you without the Legal Heat app or book, there are a few things about open carrying in PA that you need to know about. First, as has already been mentioned, you can’t open carry in Philadelphia without a permit that is valid in PA. Second, you can’t open carry in a state park without a permit. And third, you can’t open carry in a vehicle without a permit that is valid in PA. The vehicle problem, however, is solved by option 3 below.
Option 3: If you have a permit from ANYWHERE you can carry a loaded handgun in a vehicle in PA:
- Even though a NY, MD or NJ resident may not be able to carry a concealed firearm in PA for a while, they can still have a loaded handgun in a vehicle while driving in PA so long as they have any other state permit (Utah, Arizona, Florida, etc). 18 Pa.C.S. § 6106(b)(11), provides that any person may carry a loaded handgun in a vehicle so long as they have “a valid and lawfully issued license for that firearm which has been issued under the laws of the United States or any other state.” Those of you who are looking to have a loaded handgun in your vehicle while in PA will still be able to do so so long as you have any state permit.
In summary, this change does not affect PA residents at all and those of you in MD, NY or NJ (or any other state) who have taken our class will still be able to carry in over 30 states with your Utah or Arizona permits. You can also still have a loaded handgun in your vehicle in PA (so long as you have any permit) and if you wish to carry outside of your vehicle and can’t obtain a PA permit, you can still open carry everywhere except for Philadelphia.
Considering there have been ZERO negative incidents involving permitted non-residents carrying in PA, we hope AG Kane comes to her senses and reverts back to the prior reciprocity agreements. Until then, we hope this post provides a resource for those of you looking to carry in PA but are unable to obtain a PA non-resident permit.
For those of you in PA, MD, NJ or NY who are looking to obtain your permits, Legal Heat will be back in the area in the next few weeks teaching several classes. Click here to view our entire schedule.