If you want to carry a gun in Cambria County, you come to Sheriff Bob Kolar's office. Permit requests in his office have quadrupled in recent months.
To get a permit you need to bring a driver's license, 20 dollars, and references, then you fill out form. It asks about criminal history, any crime with punishment of more than a year in jail and you can't get a permit. The form also asks about drug use, drinking habits, and mental health.
Then it's up to the State Police. They run a background check and make the determination. If you get denied, you can appeal to the state.
There's a similar call to Harrisburg when you buy a gun. Pioneer Gun Shop owner Bob Buchanan's seen more customers in his Altoona store. He recently had a record crowd. Most customers were looking for guns for home protection. To buy a rifle you have to be at least 18, to buy a handgun you need to be 21, and for a fully automatic weapon, there's a special form and $200 fee. Then the state performs a more intense background check.
If home protection is all you want, you don't need a permit. If the gun stays in your home you don't need a permit to defend yourself or your home. You also don't need a permit to buy a gun. You only need a Pennsylvania permit for "concealed carry" purposes. Since Pennsylvania is an "open carry" state you can walk around with a gun displayed, but if someone sees your gun, gets upset, and calls police you could be charged with disorderly conduct.