Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf has signed legislation that removes a ban on hunting with semi-automatic rifles.
The legislation gives the Pennsylvania Game Commission the authority to regulate and allow their use during certain seasons or for certain animals.
For the past 21 months, the legislation has been making its way through the committee and floor votes before passing the Senate and House at the end of October. Gov. Tom Wolf then signed the bill on Monday.
“It’s important to note Act 168 will give the commission the option of allowing these firearms to be used for hunting,” Rep. Matt Gabler, sponsor of the legislation said in a statement on Monday. “Governing bodies that regulate sportsmen’s activities in other states, including some of those that border Pennsylvania, already allow their hunters to use these types of rifles in the field. We are moving a step closer to doing likewise.”
The legislation, which passed in the Pennsylvania General Assembly as HB 263, eliminates the prohibition on semi-automatic rifles for hunting and allow for the Pennsylvania Game Commission to regulate these rifles for all game species in accordance with season and bag limits.
The use of semi-automatic shotguns for hunting has been legal for decades in Pennsylvania, but the use of semi-automatic rifles has been prohibited in the state.
Delaware is now the only state that prohibits the use of semi automatic rifles to take game.
Despite it being peak hunting season, those that are hunting in Pennsylvania will not be able to take advantage of the new law since the Pennsylvania Game Commission still has to approve some rules for the rifles use.
“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 Monday. “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.”