I own a Marlin semi-automatic .22 rifle with a 15-shot tubular magazine. It is a fun-to-shoot little rifle that I use for plinking and target shooting. It would also be great for hunting squirrels or rabbits. However, that is not legal in Pennsylvania.
Do I NEED a semi-automatic to hunt small game? No, but it would be fun – and why not? Semi-automatic shotguns have been legal for small game for a long time.
Several bills that would legalize semi-automatic rifles for hunting in Pennsylvania are before the state legislature. The game commissioners have not yet endorsed any specific bill.
House Bill 223 would permit semi-autos of .223 caliber or smaller to be used for coyotes, foxes and groundhogs. The most popular caliber for AR-style rifles is .223.
Just thinking out loud – why would one want an auto-loader to hunt woodchucks?
Pennsylvania Game Commission staff favors HB 366, which would legalize semi-autos, but allow the agency to work out the details such as calibers, magazine capacity and species hunted. At their June 30 meeting, the commissioners passed a resolution supporting any bill that would legalized semi–automatic rifles for hunting, but allow the agency to work out the details.
To me, legalizing semi-automatic .22s for small game and larger calibers of semi-automatic rifles for coyotes is a no-brainer. However, I foresee much debate about whether we should be hunting deer and/or bears with auto-loaders. This is what some hunters are pushing for.
Pennsylvania is a very traditional state – slow to make changes with respect to hunting and fishing. Personally, I am happy with slow, well-thought-out change.
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