A new law, signed last week by Governor Tom Wolf (D), opens the door for the Pennsylvania Game Commission to allow semiautomatic rifles and handguns to be used for hunting beginning in 2017.
“Semiautomatic” refers to the firearm’s action; such an action uses recoil to cycle, replacing a spent shell with a loaded one so it is chambered and ready to go when the hunter pulls the trigger.
Lancaster Online reports that actions which were already legal include “bolt,” “lever,” “pump,” or “single action.” The latter requires the hunter to manually cock the hammer of the gun before shooting.
Shotguns with semiautomatic actions are already legal in Pennsylvania for certain types of hunting but with the stipulation that the magazine has to be plugged to hold only three shells when hunting for “waterfowl and small game.”
The bill that Governor Wolf signed was co-sponsored by state senator Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango), who said:
I am pleased that this measure is now law in Pennsylvania. 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 [had disallowed] these firearms for hunting of any kind.
Pennsylvania is now “the 49th state to permit hunting with semiautomatic rifles.”