PA Hunters Might Get to Use Semi-Autos for Deer
Russ Chastain 11.29.16
Despite a misleading headline at another website, a new Pennsylvania state law does NOT allow hunters to use semi-automatic rifles and handguns for hunting deer; instead, it simply gives the game commission the authority to allow it. And the commission is not likely to act anytime soon.
Although PA’s governor Tom Wolf reportedly signed the bill a few days before PA’s 2016 firearms deer season, it will have no effect on regulations for that season, which begins on Monday, November 28.
As most readers know, a semi-automatic rifle is not a machine gun; it simply fires one round per pull of the trigger without requiring any other manipulation on the part of the shooter. This makes it easier to get back on target to finish off an animal that may not have been cleanly killed.
Any ban on the use of semi-automatics for hunting is archaic at best, and at worst it is very bad for the game that’s being hunted. There are times when a rapid follow-up shot can make the difference between quickly ending an animal’s suffering or having it get away and go to waste. At times like that, you simply cannot beat the ease of use that a semi-auto provides.
That said, it has been a good while since I’ve relied on a semi-auto rifle for deer hunting; I have learned to love the reliability, light weight, and accuracy of bolt-action rifles, but it’s an option that any big game hunter should have.
And for those self-righteous chest-thumpers who claim that only crappy hunters use semi-autos, I offer you a full-blown raspberry. The fact is: Everyone makes mistakes, and it is every hunter’s responsibility to do his or her best to allow for those mistakes and be prepared to make up for them when they occur.
And at least PA is finally making some moves towards allowing that.