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PA: Governor Wolf Signs Hunting Reform for Semi-Autos, Air Guns

Tuesday, November 22, 2016 6:46
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(Before It's News)

A number of states have unusual rules about what may be used for hunting and what may not. Pennsylvania had a law that forbid hunting with semi-automatic rifles and pistols.  They did not forbid hunting with semi-auto shotguns.  The hunter shown in the image from the Game Commission web site is using a semi-auto shotgun, probably to hunt deer, as she is wearing hunter orange and the shotgun has sights on it. This inconsistency helped in moving the reform forward.

Laws are harder to reform than rules promulgated in hunting regulations.  The Pennsylvania government changed this law to allow increasingly popular semi-auto rifles to be used for hunting. The law also removes the ban on using air guns for hunting. From abc27.com:

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Gov. Tom Wolf has signed legislation that removes a ban on hunting with semi-automatic rifles.

Act 168 of 2016, formerly House Bill 263, also removes the ban on air- and gas-powered rifles.

Here is the wording of the new law, as shown in the HB 263.  From state.pa.us:  

§ 2308. Unlawful devices and methods.

(a) General rule.–Except as otherwise provided in this title, it is unlawful for any person to hunt or aid, abet, assist or conspire to hunt any game or wildlife through the use of:



* * *

(2) A semiautomatic rifle or pistol, except as set forth in subsection (b.1).

* * *

[(5) Any device operated by air, chemical or gas cylinder by which a projectile of any size or kind can be discharged or propelled.]

* * *



(b.1) Additional exception.–A semiautomatic rifle may be used to hunt game in accordance with regulations promulgated by the commission.

Note that the devices will be subject to rules created by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. It is too late in the year for a change this hunting season. I expect the Game Commission will have a rule change for next year.

They have many states to chose from if they wish to study examples that have worked.  In my experience, most other states allow hunting with semi-auto rifles and air guns.  Guns used for hunting tend to follow the pattern used in the military. People who served become familiar with the firearm they used, and are willing to switch to the “new fangled” device.  The previous generation tends to keep what they are familiar with.
The Pennsylvania government is merely catching up with the culture with this reform.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

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  • Looks to me like they’ll have to amend it again as it doesn’t address electro-magnetic rail-guns…but I suppose they’ll first have to determine whether they are for or against hunting ground and/or flying game with railguns. The same railgun can deliver either a single bullet…or multiple pellets like a shotgun by using a sabot.

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