After the public hearings that occurred from January 29th through today, January 31, 2017, the Pennsylvania Game Commission announced:
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave unanimous preliminary approval to regulatory changes that would permit the use of semiautomatic rifles and shotguns while hunting big game, small game and furbearers. A five-round magazine would be required for all semiautomatic hunting rifles, with the total ammunition capacity limited to six rounds, based on the preliminarily approved measure.
The measure also preliminarily approves the use of air rifles for small-game and furbearers.
Consistent with Firearm Owners Against Crime’s comments and evidentiary submissions to the PA Game Commissioners, the Board stated that
most of those who opposed cited concerns over compromised safety as their primary reason for opposition … [however after] a thorough review of hunter safety in states that allow semiautomatic rifles, including neighboring states and states that most resemble Pennsylvania in terms of hunter density…[t]he review uncovered no evidence the use of semiautomatic rifles has led to a decline in hunter safety in any state where they’re permitted for hunting.
Furthermore, the Board also reviewed the follow regulatory additions/changes:
Semiautomatic rifles in .22 caliber or less that propel single-projectile ammunition and semiautomatic shotguns 10 gauge or smaller propelling ammunition not larger than No. 4 lead – also No. 2 steel or No. 4 composition or alloy – would be legal firearms arms for small-game seasons under a regulation preliminarily approved by the Board of Game Commissioners.
Semiautomatic firearms that propel single-projectile ammunition also would be legal sporting arms for woodchucks and furbearers. There is no caliber restriction for woodchucks or furbearers.
For big game, semiautomatic centerfire rifles and shotguns would be legal sporting arms.
Full-metal-jacket ammunition would continue to be prohibited for deer, bear and elk hunting.
All semiautomatic firearms would be limited to six rounds’ ammunition capacity – magazines can hold no more than five rounds.
Semiautomatics would be legal in seasons in which modern firearms can be used to take deer, black bears, elk and fall turkeys.
Air-guns would be legal for small game in calibers from .177 to .22 that propel single-projectile pellets or bullets, under the regulatory changes preliminarily approved by the Board of Game Commissioners.
For woodchucks and furbearers, air-guns must be at least .22 caliber and propel a single-projectile pellet or bullet. BB ammunition is not authorized for small game, furbearers or woodchucks.
These proposals will be brought up again at the March meeting for a final vote.