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Pennsylvania Gun Laws Have Hunting Loopholes

In a time when a great deal of national attention is focused on gun laws and access to firearms, Pennsylvania has come under criticism for loopholes that exist in the state’s gun laws.

An unusual quirk of the law in Pennsylvania forbids people with certain criminal convictions from carrying guns. However, these same offenders can still legally obtain hunting licenses in the state. These licenses grant carriers permission to hunt with a gun.

Under Pennsylvania law, hunters do not need to pass any background check that confirms their legality to possess a gun while hunting. There are also no background checks when applying for a Sportsman’s Firearm Permit, a license that allows people to carry handguns specifically for the purpose of hunting.

Hunters and gun rights

There have been several high-profile cases involving circumstances in which a hunter was not legally allowed to carry a firearm. In 2008, a man named Christopher Johnson illegally shot a deer on a stretch of rural highway near Gettysburg. He was pulled over by a game warden, who discovered Johnson was a convicted felon. While he was not allowed to carry a gun, he did have a valid hunting license.

Johnson, afraid he was going to go back to jail, opened fire and shot the warden, killing him immediately. He ultimately received a death sentence.

For now, this loophole is still open in Pennsylvania. For more information on your legal options if you’re facing weapons charges, meet with experienced Reading criminal defense lawyer David R. Eshelman.


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