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Is possession of a weapon a felony?


Carrying a gun to protect ourselves is our Second Amendment right. However, sometimes it is illegal to be in possession of a gun in the state of Pennsylvania. Doing so could result in Federal weapons violation or state violations regarding weapons would be in these places:
  • Airport property
  • Banks
  • government property
  • Parks
  • Places of worship
  • School property
  • Other places that have the proper signage
The purpose of established gun laws is to control the eligibility to carry, own, or purchase a gun. There are Federal and state laws, with each state having its own defined gun laws. Violations regarding weapons can even vary between cities.

Common violations regarding weapons laws include:

  • Unauthorized purchase
  • Illegal carrying of a gun 
  • Minor in possession of a gun
  • Possessing a gun without authorization or permit
  • Discharging a gun in public or in prohibited areas

What is considered an illegal weapon?

The Gun Control Act is a United States federal law that regulates who can own, manufacture, sell, or import a firearm. Weapons considered being in violations regarding weapons laws include:

  • Machine gun and semiautomatic assault weapon
  • Sawed-off shotgun
  • Bombs and explosives
  • Stiletto heels
  • Switchblade
  • Illegal knives
  • Selling some firearms to restricted groups, including convicted felons, juveniles

What does weapons violation mean?

Violations regarding weapons are any acts that go against the regulations or statutes established by local, state, or Federal government bodies that are intended to control deadly weapons. A deadly weapon includes explosives, firearms and the ammunition for those firearms, silencers, and certain knives.  

What are serious weapons charges?

Any weapon’s charge should be serious, and the person arrested should hire an attorney that is experienced in defending weapon charges. Felony charges for violations regarding weapons are the most serious of all weapon charges.

Those charges could be for illegal possession, distribution or transportation of firearms, and could involve a defendant with a prior record making them illegal to own or possess any firearm. In Pennsylvania, a person charged with carrying a firearm that is considered being a concealed weapons violation faces harsh penalties that may include prison time and fines, all of which will become permanent on their criminal record.

Some examples of serious violations regarding weapons charges are:

  • Illegal firearm possession – Residents of Pennsylvania are not required to register their firearms; however, they must get them legally within the commonwealth. Certain firearms are prohibited such as machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, bombs.
  • Deadly weapon possession – Another criminal activity is usually involved with this charge like assault and battery, manslaughter, or murder.
  • Carrying without a license – Residents can carry a concealed handgun in the state of Pennsylvania with a license. To get a concealed handgun license, there are certain restrictions that must be met, such as being 21 years of age. It is illegal to have a weapon on your person in a legal building or on school grounds, even with a concealed license.
  • Unregistered firearm possession – While residents of Pennsylvania are not required to register their firearm, there are state laws that forbid transferring a gun between persons.
  • Illegal use of a firearm – The state of Pennsylvania has strict laws when and where a firearm can be fired and if you’re licensed to carry in public.
  • Specific theft charges – In Pennsylvania, theft of a gun is a serious charge, as is selling a stolen gun. These charges are considered a felony and will be tried with stiff penalties possible.
  • Other charges – If a gun was present during the arrest of other charges like kidnapping, rape, robbery, or theft.


A violation regarding weapons charge is serious, and most are felony offense in the state of Pennsylvania. Judges in this state have a sentencing matrix to guide them in determining the punishment. 

The sentencing matrix is based on the offense gravity score, referred to as the OGS.  With regards to violations regarding weapons crimes, the OGS fluctuates from like a 10 to a 2 for some misdemeanor violations regarding weapons offenses that will determine the weapons violation sentence issued by the judge. The range of the offense gravity score is based on the surrounding circumstances of the arrest, if the gun was loaded, and any prior criminal history of the person arrested. 

Examples are for a first-time offense, being convicted of violations regarding weapons crime with an offense gravity score of 10, the sentencing could range between 22 months to 36 months. An offense gravity score of 9 could be sentenced to 12 months to 24 months. On the lower end, an offense gravity score of 3 could receive restorative sanctions of one-month jail time or probation.

Can you go to jail for having bullets? 

The state of Pennsylvania does not have a law in place that prohibits the sale or possession of large-capacity magazines of ammunition. The legislature was presented in 2013 to change this, but the state has not acted on the two bills presented. Should these House bills be passed, it will ban large-capacity f more than fifteen rounds of ammunition in a single magazine. It is important to state that the laws mentioned in this article are based on Pennsylvania laws and reference any Federal laws.  Each state has its own set of laws and any person that has been charged with violations regarding weapons, whether it is in Pennsylvania or any state, should seek the guidance of a criminal attorney. Are you or a loved one facing violations regarding weapons in Pittsburgh, PA? Call (412) 368-5188 today for your bail needs.