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November 24, 2016

Pennsylvania hunters will be able to use semi-automatic firearms

Officials remind gamesmen law won't apply right away

A new law will allow Pennsylvania hunters to use semi-automatic rifles and handguns.

But excited gamesmen shouldn't get trigger-happy just yet.

House Bill 263 was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf Monday. The legislation amends an all-out ban in the state's hunting laws to allow for the Pennsylvania Game Commission to regulate the use of semi-automatic weapons for hunting.

State Sen. Scott Hutchinson added the provision about semi-automatic guns to the bill, which also removes the restriction on air, chemical or gas cylinder powered firearms for hunting.

“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 currently disallows these firearms for hunting of any kind," said Hutchinson, who added he was "pleased" the bill is now law.

Pennsylvania was only one of two states that didn't allow the use of semi-automatic rifles for hunting, with Delaware being the other.

In a Facebook post Wednesday, the PCG reminded hunters that the new law won't apply right away.

The commission said it had not yet made changes to the list of lawful firearms and ammunitions, meaning that with the exception of some counties that already allow for the use of semi-automatic shotguns, all guns must be manually operated.

The reminder is timely: The state's rifle season for deer opens Monday, Nov. 28.

With the commission’s next quarterly meeting scheduled for January, no changes will be made before April 2017.