In the largest change to hunting equipment regulations since allowing crossbow use during the regular archery season, the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners gave unanimous preliminary approval that would permit the use of semiautomatic rifles and shotguns while hunting big game, small game and furbearers. The measure also preliminarily approves the use of air rifles for small-game and furbearers.
Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation that currently has no hunting seasons during which semiautomatic rifles can be used.
Prior to the vote, game commission staff did 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. The review uncovered no evidence the use of semiautomatic rifles has led to a decline in hunter safety in any state where they are permitted.
Semiautomatic firearms would be limited to six rounds ammunition capacity when used during a big game season.