On Monday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill permitting the use of semi-automatic rifles and handguns for hunting. The new law will not be available for hunters in the upcoming gun deer season beginning November 28, 2016.
Current state law only allows hunters to use single-shot firearms, requiring hunters who miss on their first shot to manually move an additional cartridge into the chamber to hit their target. Using a semi-automatic rifles gives hunters a much greater ability to fire a timely and accurate follow-up shot, which can be the difference between wounding or quickly taking a game animal.
“I am pleased that this measure is now law in Pennsylvania,” said Senator Scott Hutchinson, the co-sponsor of the initiative. “I’ve heard from numerous sportsmen and women who would like to use the same semi-automatic rifles for hunting that they practice with at the firing range, but Pennsylvania is one of the few states that [had disallowed] these firearms for hunting of any kind.”
The legislation gives the state Game Commission authority to regulate the use of semi-auto guns for hunting and the board of game commissioners is expected to adopt regulations in 2017, including the calibers, seasons and the type of game that can be hunted.
The Senate bill was approved Oct. 26 with a vote of 40-7 followed by a 160-25 House vote on HB 263 the following day. With Governor Wolf’s signature, Pennsylvania has become the 49th state to permit hunting with semi-automatic rifles.