Illegal & Legal Weapons You Can Carry in Pittsburgh | Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC

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Illegal & Legal Weapons You Can Carry in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh weapon laws are broad. Knowing your local regulations is the best defense against the justice system. The type of weapon, its status, and your location all factor in when deciding whether you were lawfully or unlawfully possessing a weapon.

Weapons & PA Law

Before you carry in public, you must know relevant laws that apply to firearms and other weapons. For example, in Pennsylvania, you do not need a license to purchase or open carry a firearm.

However, you do need a license for a concealed gun. Understanding how these laws apply to you can make the difference between being arrested and abiding by the law.

Penalties for Violation of Pittsburgh Weapon Laws

If a person violates a Pittsburgh weapon law, they may be fined up to $1,000 and court costs for each offense charged. If the charge involves violations over multiple days, then each day constitutes a separate and distinct offense.

What Weapons Are Legal to Carry in Pittsburgh

Certain weapons are permitted within the city limits of Pittsburgh.

Is It Legal to Carry a Gun in Pittsburgh?

It is legal to carry a standard firearm in the open in Pittsburgh. However, to conceal carry, you must have a license and be at least 21 years of age. You may not carry an assault rifle or other large magazine weapon in Pittsburgh.

Non-Lethal Weapons for Self Defense

Non-lethal weapons carried for self-defense are allowed in Pittsburgh. That includes things like pepper spray, mace, and tasers. However, these items may only be carried for self-defense. You must be at least 18 years of age to possess a stun gun in Pittsburgh.


The sale, possession, and carrying of knives are not as heavily regulated as firearms. However, there are still rules that must be followed. Most knives with everyday uses are not prohibited. That includes pocket knives, machetes, hunting knives, razors, butterfly or balisong knives, daggers, and buck or bowie knives.

Pennsylvania code prohibits switchblades, gravity knives, ballistic knives, and any other knife used for infliction of severe bodily injury and has no lawful purpose.

What Weapons Are Illegal to Carry in Pittsburgh

Illegal weapons generally have no non-lethal purpose.

Offensive Weapons

Pennsylvania’s criminal code makes it illegal to carry what is considered an “offensive weapon.” An offensive weapon includes items like brass knuckles, blackjacks, and certain types of knives.

Expressly, switchblades are prohibited by state and federal law, including the Federal Switchblade Act of 1958. These knives are prohibited from being transported, sold, or distributed in Pittsburgh and throughout the United States.

Assault Rifles

According to Pittsburgh City Ordinance No. 696A.02, owning, possessing, transferring, or transporting an assault weapon within the City of Pittsburgh is illegal. Additionally, the use of an assault weapon is specifically prohibited. Use of an assault weapon includes, but is not limited to:

  • Discharging or attempting to discharge the assault weapon
  • Loading it with ammunition
  • Brandishing the assault weapon
  • Displaying a loaded assault weapon
  • Pointing an assault weapon at any person
  • Using the assault weapon for any purpose prohibited by state or federal laws

Brandishing means displaying all or part of the firearm to intimidate a person, regardless of whether the firearm is visible to the other person.

An assault weapon is presumed to be loaded if a magazine is fitted in the receiver.

Prohibited Accessories to Firearms

The use of the following firearm accessories is prohibited in any public place within the City of Pittsburgh:

  • Large capacity magazines
  • Armor penetrating ammunition
  • Rapid fire devices

Prohibited Weapons that Are Not Firearms

When determining whether it is legal to carry certain types of weapons in Pittsburgh, City Ordinance No. 695.02 distinguishes between those that are designed or intended to cause injury or death or damage to property for which no common lawful purpose exists. Those types of weapons are prohibited and include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Anti-tank guns
  • Bazookas
  • Bombs
  • Booby traps
  • Flamethrowers
  • Grenades
  • Mines
  • Mortar shells

Fake Firearms are Prohibited in Certain Circumstances

Pittsburgh also prohibits carrying a fake firearm in a vehicle or on a person, whether it is concealed or unconcealed, with the intent to alarm, intimidate, terrify, or threaten any person. This applies to carrying facsimile firearms on private and public locations.

How Does a Weapon’s Status Impact Its Legality?

Sometimes the status of a weapon or where it is used determines whether it is legal in Pittsburgh.

Legal Discharge of a Weapon in Pittsburgh

In most circumstances, it is illegal to discharge a weapon, including ammunition or arrows, in any public place within the City of Pittsburgh.

However, you can discharge a weapon in the following circumstances:

  • Under appropriate supervision at established target ranges
  • When permitted by other laws
  • When an air gun is discharged on private property or the property of a consenting individual

A public place may include streets, parks, public buildings, public accommodations, businesses, and other open spaces available to the general public.

Lawful Use of Weapons for Hunting

Individuals are permitted to lawfully possess a firearm on their own property or another consenting individual’s property for lawful hunting purposes.

License to Carry a Concealed Firearm in Pittsburgh

While you can open carry a firearm without a license in Pittsburgh, you must have a permit to concealed carry.

If you are carrying a gun in your car, it must be unloaded, and the ammunition must be stored in a different location than the firearm.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney If You Need to Protect Your Rights

You have a constitutional right to have a firearm. However, that right can legally be limited by federal, state, and city laws. Pittsburgh does have many city ordinances that restrict what type of weapons you can carry, when, and where.

You should immediately contact a Pittsburgh criminal lawyer if you are arrested and charged with a weapons crime. Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC is here for you. Call us at (412) 281-2146 or contact us online for a case consultation.