The leaves are starting to turn. The smell of pumpkin spice is in the air. It’s trick-or-treating time again. This time of year, I often get asked about whether or not you can legally carry a concealed firearm while you’re trick-or-treating. There are no laws that say anything about carrying a firearm on a particular day in October, but knowing who is planning to carry and where the trick-or-treating is occurring will help you get answers to the questions you might be having.
Who can carry?
If you have a License to Carry a firearm, you may carry concealed or open anywhere in the state, provided you are not in a prohibited location. We’ll address that here in a few moments. If you do not have your License to Carry, you may still open carry your firearm, unless you’re in Philadelphia, which requires a License to Carry openly as well as concealed.
Where can you carry?
There are certain areas that are off-limits all the time, Halloween or otherwise. Keep this in mind when you’re trick-or-treating. Many schools now offer an indoor trick-or-treating event as a safe alternative to traditional door-to-door tick-or-treating. If you’re trick-or-treating in a school, you cannot carry a firearm with you while you do so. There are also many malls that offer similar trick-or-treating experiences. There’s no law in Pennsylvania that says malls are off-limits for firearms. But a mall can, like any private property owner, prohibit the carrying of firearms if they so choose. So, if you head to a mall, check for a no gun sign before entering with a firearm. If you’re going to do traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating in your neighborhood, be aware of your surroundings. If you get invited into someone’s house, remember that they have the right to exclude you, and your firearm, if they want.
What about a party at your church?
Like malls, churches are not necessarily off-limits, unless the church specifically has a no-gun policy. Keep in mind, however, that if the church houses a K-12 school in any part of its building or grounds, then carrying at that church is always prohibited. School rules control in this situation.
Festivals and events
Finally, there are many public festivals and events where you can celebrate Halloween. Festivals are not prohibited places for carrying a firearm unless they are being held at an already off-limits location, or an establishment that prohibits firearms. For example, if you want to celebrate Halloween at Hershey Park after dark, park policy specifically prohibits weapons of any kind, and if you carry a firearm, you will be denied entry to the park. In these situations, the location controls, not the fact that it is a festival. You should always check the venue rules before heading out so you’re not disappointed. The most important thing to remember this Halloween is to be safe and to have fun.
For any other questions regarding laws dealing with carrying firearms on Halloween or otherwise, in Pennsylvania, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.