Avoiding Errors on Firearms Purchase and Carry Permit Applications That Can Lead to Your Arrest


It's common for us to sign applications and contracts without reviewing the fine print. Whether it's applying to college, purchasing a home, or applying for a credit card, we answer questions and sign documents without fully reviewing each and every detail.

If you apply for a concealed carry permit or complete an application to purchase a firearm, you cannot afford to answer questions without being 100% sure of the answer. Any inaccurate responses made on these forms can lead to you being charged with serious felony and misdemeanor charges, even if you have no prior criminal record and had no intent to lie on the application.


When attempting to purchase a firearm, you will be required to complete ATF Form 4473 and PA form SP4-113. When applying for a license to carry firearms, PA Form SP4-127 is utilized.

The forms include a series of yes and no questions regarding your criminal history (including domestic violence history), mental health history, drug and alcohol use, and military discharge status. The applicant must sign a certification, subjecting himself or herself to the penalties for Unsworn Falsification to Authorities, and other penalties under the Uniform Firearms Act.

Upon completion, a Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) inquiry is initiated with the Pennsylvania State Police, where mental health and criminal records will be reviewed. Typically, 60% of purchasers are approved in minutes. If there's an issue regarding your eligibility, the file may be held for research purposes for up to 15 days.

If you are denied eligibility, you have thirty (30) days to complete a PICS Challenge form. Your failure to complete the PICS challenge form, or failure to have a valid reason to impose a PICS challenge, could lead to the filing of criminal charges against you.


The Pennsylvania State Police are filing charges on firearm applications cases at a record pace. The two most common charges associated with firearms application cases are:

Sale or Transfer of Firearm - 18 Pa.C.S. 6111(g)(4) - Punishable by up to 7 years in prison: any person, purchaser or transferee commits a felony of the third degree if, in connection with the purchase, delivery or transfer of a firearm under this chapter, he knowingly and intentionally: (i)  makes any materially false oral statement; (ii)  makes any materially false written statement, including a statement on any form promulgated by Federal or State agencies; or (iii)  willfully furnishes or exhibits any false identification intended or likely to deceive the seller, licensed dealer or licensed manufacturer.

Unsworn Falsification to Authorities - 18 Pa.C.S. 4904(b) - Punishable by up to 1 year in prison and a minimum $1,000 fine: A person commits a misdemeanor of the third degree if he makes a written false statement which he does not believe to be true, on or pursuant to a form bearing notice, authorized by law, to the effect that false statements made therein are punishable.


There are many reasons why a person can be denied the right to purchase a firearm or obtain a carry permit, which include:

  • Being a fugitive from justice;
  • Convictions under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic act which is punishable by imprisonment exceeding 2-years (even if your actual sentence was less than 2-years);
  • Three or more convictions for DUI  within a 5-year period;
  • A person who has been adjudicated as an incompetent or who has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution for inpatient care and treatment under the Mental Health Procedures Act;
  • Those present in the US unlawfully (i.e. illegal immigrants);
  • Anyone subject to an active Protection From Abuse (PFA) order;
  • Anyone who is adjudicated delinquent of certain offenses as a juvenile, including, but not limited to homicide related offenses, felony assault offenses, sexual assault offenses, arson, robbery, and extortion.
  • An individual whose character and reputation is such that the individual would be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety;
  • An individual who is addicted to or is an unlawful user of marijuana or a stimulant, depressant or narcotic drug;
  • An individual who is a habitual drunkard;

If you answer questions regarding these issues incorrectly on your application, you may very well be charged with the offenses discussed above.


Even if your mistake was innocent, you don't want to have to explain yourself before a judge or jury. Some of the most common mistakes, include:

  • "I didn't know my juvenile record counted."
  • "That case happened years ago, I thought it was automatically expunged from my record."
  • "I didn't know my commitment was classified as involuntary."
  • "I forgot that a conviction was on my record."
  • "I didn't know I had an active warrant for my arrest."
  • "I didn't think my conviction carried a maximum sentence of a year or more."
  • "Nobody went over the form with me."

In other cases, the offender simply had such an extensive criminal record, that there was no way they could have been mistaken about their checkered past when they completed the application.

We have also seen cases where a person who purchased firearms in the past was charged because he/she made an admission to having smoked marijuana for decades (answered "no" to question regarding drug use).

The bottom line is this: if you answer an eligibility question inaccurately for any reason, the police and the local District Attorney's office will likely assume that you intended to deceive the agency reviewing your application. 


If you are uncertain about the answers to any of the questions listed in a firearms purchase or carry permit application, it is highly recommended that you hold off until you run an FBI criminal background check. You should also retain counsel to review the application with you step by step, to insure that your answers are truthful and accurate.

If you have already been denied the right to purchase a firearm, or obtain a carry permit, you should immediately consult with an attorney about filing a PICS challenge.

If it is too late, and you are charged with the Sale or Transfer of a Firearm or Unsworn Falsification, call ZLF today at 412-447-5580 for a free, confidential consultation.