Meadville Tribune

Local News

May 5, 2014

Lawmaker proposes semi-automatic option for hunting varmints, predators

The semi-automatic rifle is becoming the most popular type of firearm right now, according to Republican state Rep. Greg Lucas, who is advocating for legislation he recently introduced, prospectively allowing the use of semi-automatics for hunting varmints and predators.

Lucas’ proposed bill, House Bill 2230, helps farmers protect their livestock from animals like foxes and coyotes, while also giving hunters and sportsmen who “have money tied up” in semi-automatic rifles the opportunity to use them for more than shooting targets.

A local gunsmith brought the idea to light, said Lucas, whose 5th Legislative District includes Crawford County. The idea is that modular rifles, firearms able to undergo multiple modifications and customization, are currently disallowed in hunting, much to the disappointment of countless hunters and sporting residents who Lucas says support the bill.

“I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from hunters, sportsman’s clubs are on board and I’ve got over a dozen cosponsors (for the bill),” he said. “Pennsylvania is one of the few states that doesn’t allow semi-automatics in hunting. My legislation only makes it legal for varmints and predators.”

Lucas reported he is working with the Pennsylvania Game Commission to legalize semi-automatic firearms in predator hunting, provided hunters use a rifle with a 0.223 caliber or less.

For safety consciousness, hunters would also be required to limit the cartridge capacity to no more than six bullets, Lucas said.

“It’s early, so I don’t know if we’ll have hearings on the bill or if it will just go to a vote,” Lucas said. “But there’s a lot of positive press for this bill. It’s a long process, but we’re trying to educate community members and the Game Commission on this type of firearm.”

Lucas ultimately hopes his proposed legislation will clarify language or create a separate definition for the term “modular” as it pertains to customizable weaponry, allowing for mitigated use in hunting certain animals.

The bill has been referred to the House Game and Fisheries Committee, of which Lucas is a member, for further consideration.

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