In what situations, in Pennsylvania, can you lend your firearm to someone else? This appears to be a simple question. But there are actually many layers that we need to examine before arriving at an accurate answer.
Things to consider #1: The type of firearm
The first question is what type of firearm are you trying to loan? Under federal law, there are restrictions on loaning any National Firearms Act (NFA) restricted weapons, such as short-barreled rifles or short-barreled shotguns, to anyone not specifically named as able to possess them in a trust or other governing document.
Things to consider #2: The state of residence
Next, federal law requires you to consider state of residence. Where does the person you plan on loaning a firearm to live?. Are they a resident of your home state? Federal law at 18 USC 922(a)(5) says that it is unlawful for a person to “transfer, sell, trade, give, transport, or deliver any firearm to any person, whom the transferor knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, does not reside in the State in which the transferor resides.”
However, this same law also provides an exception by saying that the prohibition does NOT apply to the “loan or rental of a firearm to any person for temporary use for lawful sporting purposes.” So if your buddy comes into town from out of state to hunt or target shoot with you, under federal law you may loan him a firearm. However, you may not loan this individual a firearm purely for a defensive purpose (absent emergency scenarios, where the common law doctrine of necessity may provide you a legal defense).
So, assuming you are loaning a firearm to another resident of Pennsylvania, we next need to consider what type of firearm you are loaning. Pennsylvania draws a distinction between handguns, and rifles or shotguns. Generally, absent restrictions on age and ability to possess firearms, in Pennsylvania you can loan a rifle or shotgun to another.
What the law says
For the loan of a handgun in Pennsylvania, we find guidance from 18 Pa.C.S. 6115 which says that a handgun can not be loaned to another, unless the person who receives meets one of the following exceptions:
- Has a PA LTCF;
- Is exempt from licensing;
- Is engaging in a hunter safety program, or firearms training program, or competition approved by the National Rifle Association;
- The person who receives the weapon is under 18 years of age, but is under the supervision of someone over the age of 21 who is legally eligible to possess firearms;
- Is lawfully hunting or trapping;
- There is a bank or other lending institution, which can secure the weapon;
- Is being passed by intestacy (without a will), or by bequest to someone able to possess the firearm under 18 Pa.c.s. 6105 (relating to prohibited persons); or
- Within one’s dwelling or place of business, provided the firearm does not leave the dwelling or place of business.
The most common exemption in Pennsylvania, listed above, is exemption (1). This allows you to loan a firearm to another resident who has a License to Carry Firearms.
Things to consider #3: The age of the person
Another key consideration under Pennsylvania law, when loaning a handgun, is age of the person. Under 18 Pa.c.s., in addition to the requirements contained in section 6115, if loaning a handgun to an individual under the age of 18, the individual must be:
- Under the supervision of a parent, grandparent, legal guardian or an adult acting with the expressed consent of the minor’s custodial parent or legal guardian, and
- The minor is engaged in lawful activity, including safety training, lawful target shooting, engaging in an organized competition involving the use of a firearm, or the firearm is unloaded and the minor is transporting it for a lawful purpose, or
- Whom is lawfully hunting or trapping in accordance with 34 Pa.C.S. (relating to game).
There is not an age restriction under either state or federal law when loaning a long gun, such as a standard rifle or shotgun, to a minor.
Other things to consider
But it’s beyond worrying about age. You also need to make sure that the person you are lending a firearm to is eligible to possess firearms. This means that they cannot be barred by either state, or federal law from possessing guns. This can be tricky, because even a felony from 30 years ago could prevent someone from possessing firearms. For this reason, before loaning a gun, we recommend getting a written and a statement. This should include a signature from the person you are loaning the firearm to, stating:
- When the firearm should return to your possession and
- That the state or federal law does not prohibit the person from possessing firearms.
Finally, it would be a good practice to discuss with the person you are loaning the firearm to, the purpose of the loan. You want to make sure that you do not loan your weapon to someone who is planning on going out to commit crimes with it! Should you loan your firearm to someone who goes out and commits a bank robbery with your weapon, you run the risk of both criminal prosecution as an accomplice, as well as civil suit by anyone who suffers injuries during the robberies. For this reason, you need to be very cautious when loaning firearms.
If you have any questions about lending your firearm to a third party, contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak with an Independent Program Attorney.
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