Laws in Pennsylvania about hunting rifles may soon change.
LeighValleyLive reports House Bill 263 was signed in mid-November by Gov. Tom Wolf, enacting Act 168 of 2016. This paves the way for new Pennsylvania Game Commission firearms regulations concerning semi-automatic rifles. The current law allows only auto-loading shotguns and manually operated rifles to be used when hunting, LeighHighLive reports.
If given the necessary approval by the Game Commission, the media outlet reports hunters will be permitted to use air-, chemical- or gas-cylinder-powered firearms.
Though the action is in early stages, it’s received a warm welcome, LeighHighLive reports.
“I am pleased that this measure is now law in Pennsylvania,” state Sen. Scott Hutchinson, who introduced the provision told the outlet.
“I’ve heard from numerous sportsmen and women who would like to use the same semiautomatic rifles for hunting that they practice with at the firing range, but Pennsylvania is one of the few states that currently disallows these firearms for hunting of any kind,” continued Hutchinson, a Republican in the state’s northwestern 21st Senatorial District.
There’s still discussion over the potential bill. Game Commission Executive Director Matt Hough told lawmakers last year that he’d like to limit semi-auto rifles used for hunting to five rounds, LeighHighLive reports. He’d also like to restrict animals that could be hunted to coyotes, fox and woodchucks, along with deer, bear, turkey and elk.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) commented on the motion, according to LeighHighLive, calling it “a huge victory.”
“Semi-automatic rifles simply give hunters a much greater ability to fire a timely and accurate follow-up shot, which can be the huge difference between wounding or quickly taking a game animal,” the NRA said in a statement. “Larger calibers, including the popular .30-06 and larger, generate significant recoil that some shooters may not handle well. Gas-operated semi-automatics have less recoil, making them more user-friendly.”