As you’ve no doubt seen in the news, many parts of the country are experiencing a push to ban firearms from government buildings. A significant portion of this new “outrage” is media-driven opportunism by gun control advocates. To help sort the legal facts from fiction, let’s take a look at how the law plays a role in securing your rights as a law-abiding gun owner.

The Second Amendment ensures the rights of all Americans to keep and bear arms. But lawmakers have differing opinions on how that applies to the Pennsylvania Capitol building and other public lands.

Here’s what you need to know about the past, the present, and the future of legally carrying a firearm on the grounds of our state buildings and other government properties.

Did the Capitol Events on January 6 Spark Change in Pennsylvania?

The events of January 6 in Washington, D.C. did not cause a change to carry laws at the Pennsylvania Capitol Complex. The Pennsylvania State Capitol, located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is generally accessible to the public; however, weapons were already prohibited at the Capitol Complex according to the Department of General Services, which states on its website that “no weapons, firearms, explosives, knives, mace, pepper spray, or hazardous materials are allowed in the Capitol Complex buildings or surrounding grounds.”  The website further indicates that visitors with firearms may “check them at the entrance” provided they complete a firearms acknowledgment receipt form.

The Pennsylvania Code addresses these areas under Title 49 Chapter 61, which is entitled “Use of Public Areas Outside the Capitol Complex – Statement of Policy.” Under Sections 61.1 and 61.3, firearms and other “offensive weapons” (as defined by 18 Pa. C.S. § 908) are prohibited in the “leased premises of the Department of State.”

Should You Be on Alert?

Currently, strong preemption laws in Pennsylvania mean that all gun laws must come from the state level. This prevents localities from making their own rules and laws affecting government buildings. While there is nothing poised to change regarding firearms on public property in Pennsylvania right now, this certainly does not mean that things cannot change in the future. Gun owners should remain vigilant for potential changes in the legislature.

Staying abreast of changes in the law can be difficult. Reading the U.S. LawShield Newsletter each month is a great way to learn about proposed changes. For any questions about carrying in and around government buildings, contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.


The information provided in this publication is intended to provide general information to individuals and is not legal advice. The information included in this publication may not be quoted or referred to in any other publication without the prior written consent of U.S. LawShield, to be given or withheld at our discretion. The information is not a substitute for, and does not replace the advice or representation of a licensed attorney. We strive to ensure the information included in this publication is accurate and current, however, no claim is made to the accuracy of the information and we are not responsible for any consequences that may result from the use of information in this publication. The use of this publication does not create an attorney-client relationship between U.S. LawShield, any independent program attorney, and any individual.