PA: Restricted Devices Amendment


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Tiber
June 14, 2006, 11:12 PM
Hello all!

I'm still in the process of building my AR-15 but I've borrowed a few for test fires. Aside of getting hit in the face with the brass (I'm a lefty), I like how it shoots well when it's well built. Also being a typical young-person with college debt and all the goodies that occur with the transition to adulthood (notice how I didn't say maturity -- I'm on to you!) the AR-15 is pretty much it for someone like me who wishes to compete in shooting sports and want a "does it all" gun.

I got my letter writing ninja on and wrote the PAGC. "Why is the AR-15 banned if you allow automatic shotguns?" was the question. They told me, literally in two sentences, to please write the Governor. I composed the following:

Honorable Governor,

I recently wrote the PA Game Commission regarding PA Code 2308 (restricted devices: http://www.pgc.state.pa.us/pgc/cwp/view.asp?a=478&q=151077#2308 ). I requested information as to why the law is the way it is and if it could be changed. I was referenced to your office for such inquiries.

On the surface of it, the law seems simple. Devices are restricted because no-one wants "assault weapons" being used to chase around the animals. It seems more 'sporting' to force the hunter to use simpler arms for the sake of the well-being of the animals.

Hunting, of course, is not about the well-being of the animals, not in the sense that every animal must be kept alive. Valley Forge Park, for example, has sadly been overrun with human acclimated deer and the result is the loss of the wild from the wild-life. On the other hand, the wildlife management units have been effective in keeping the deer population hardy through culling. The culling prevents the wildlife from becoming old and weak and a foothold for disease. It also prevents the thinning of the gene pool by preventing older animals from producing many offspring which results in fewer copies of the genes competing for more food. I should expect, going back to Valley Forge, that the deer population is due for a crash due to disease and a thin gene pool.

The original intent of my correspondence was to ask about hunting with an AR-15. Many young people such as myself were passed on the shooting hobby from our fathers or we are armed forced members and caught the shooting sports in the service of our country. Also like many young people, I have a budget to watch, college bills to pay off, a marriage to try to finance and hope to become a landowner some day. I purchased an AR-15 because I wanted to participate in accuracy shooting sports and it provides many options at a good cost to own such a weapon for such a purpose. The AR-15 parts are cheap and plentiful and the weapon has the added feature that the top half may be exchanged to shoot many different calibers. For a distance shooter, this is a good thing. This means that should I decide to shoot 22lr, I can convert my AR-15 to do so for about $200. If I decide to shoot 308 for distance, I can do so for about $500. To draw a comparison to the auto industry, this is the same as buying a racing car frame and being able to run a fuel economy engine in it when I want to enjoy the handling but do not wish to incur the cost, or taking the full race engine out for a drive on race day.

Pennsylvania law currently forbids the AR-15 (or any automatic rifle) as a hunting arm despite allowing for automatic shotguns with a magazine plug. Given the versatility of this arm and the fact that many young people such as myself own one for competition shooting, I wish to respectfully ask you to amend the law to allow for AR-15s, with a reasonable shell limit (5 rounds, which is also the standard in other states and most bolt and lever action hunting rifles legal in PA, or single-shot as in shooting matches). I also wish to respectfully request an amendment to the law to allow for hunting on Sundays. Oftentimes working and going to classes forces me to only hunt on Saturday borrowing my Fathers arms and the extra day would allow for more time to hunt. More time to hunt would mean more people interested in hunting and increased revenue in the form of hunting licenses sold for the state.

Thank you for your time, Sir, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.
Included was my contact information. I am interested to know if there are other people of the same convictions about hunting in PA and I wish to encourage people of similar interests to write the Governor and encourage amendments to the hunting laws. Eventually I hope to complete my lefty AR-15 and actually get some shooting time with it, both in persuit of competition and dinner.

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Steve in PA
June 15, 2006, 12:40 AM
Auto-loading shotguns can only be used in certain seasons and even then they must have a plug which limits the magazine capacity to 2 shells.

No auto-loading rifles can be used, ever.

carpettbaggerr
June 15, 2006, 01:03 AM
I'm pretty sure that's why he wrote the letter, Steve. ;)

ArmedBear
June 15, 2006, 01:32 AM
F&G laws are generally arcane, difficult to decipher when you actually read them, and sometimes downright silly.

However, given what I've read about northeastern hunting, I'd guess that the ban on hunting with autoloaders has more to do with the safety of other hunters you're shooting at (you can probably hear them cussing while working your bolt action), and the preservation of cows (you might hear them say Moo when you miss them the first time), than any particular prejudice against the rifle design.:p

Steve in PA
June 15, 2006, 01:42 AM
Yeah, I'd like nothing more than to be sitting on my deer stand and have some dufus start unloading a 30 round mag at a running deer. No thank you. Want to hunt with your AR, then take out the gas tube and make it a single shot.

pedaldude
June 15, 2006, 02:08 AM
I don't even now if they'd allow a single shot .223 rifle to hunt deer most states don't. I think 7mm would be a more do it all type if you intend on hunting or a .30-30 I think the mag capacity laws are so bad marksmen don't use it as a crutch and wound a whole bunch of game or just spray into the woods hoping to hit something, but you'd think a quick follow up shot with an auto would be more humane if it's not a one shot drop. They don't hunt sunday because of the puritans who ran the laws for a while, it's changing very slowly. I think effort would better be spent on ensuring that we have firearms at all and that a new stronger AWB doesnt pop up in the future.

just get a good inexpensive bolt action like a savage. Even a cheapo single shot break action but a Nagant will do better for the same.

Tiber
June 15, 2006, 06:31 PM
Thanks for your concerns and suggestions. Yes, I'm writing to get the laws changed. The Sunday law rubs me more wrong then the automatics laws, but in states which allow automatics for varminting, the injury rate is about the same as anywhere else. As far as people spraying 30 rounds into the woods, the states which allow hunting with automatics generally restrict things to 5 rounds as I recall. Plus I seriously doubt getting an automatic into the woods immediately causes people to lose all common sense and spray the forest down.

The Governor (or his aid) was extremely polite and prompted me to forward the letter to PA legislature.

Azrael256
June 15, 2006, 06:55 PM
The only restrictions on action or ammo capacity here in Texas are no full auto and the 3-shell limit for hunting migratory game birds (I thought it was all game birds... all those years of quail hunting with 3 shells...). Admittedly I am not neck deep in the hunting community in this state as I haven't been out in several years, but I wonder if a more active member knows of any problems created by the use of autoloading firearms.

As for me, I know of no problems created by autoloaders. I've been hunting once or twice with an M1, and a friend has taken deer with a Remington auto .30-06. I'm not about to go hunting with an AR or an AK, as I think the chances of wounding an animal are too high, but if somebody wants to take their FAL or BAR for a spin out on the deer lease, I see no problem. Responsible hunters can hunt safely with miniguns. Irresponsible idiots will cause problems with single shot .22s.

ArmedBear
June 15, 2006, 08:04 PM
Texas is a tad different from the Northeast, geographically speaking.:)

A Marlin 336W costs less than a deer-worthy AR upper. A lot less. I'd be more peeved if I bought a nice BAR and found out I couldn't use it.

but in states which allow automatics for varminting, the injury rate is about the same as anywhere else

Varminting? You mean shooting hundreds of yards in open country where you can see for miles, with a big scope and a bigger spotting scope? Couldn't be more different from woods deer hunting! Injury rates from varmint hunting have no relation to injury rates from woods hunting.

California allows semiauto .223 for deer, but nobody actually does it, or at least no one I've ever talked to about it.

coat4gun
June 15, 2006, 08:17 PM
There are no problems caused by semi-auto rifles when allowed for hunting. Like ArmedBear said, this is just another arcane law that needs to be changed.

Steve In PA: I have hunted in plenty of states that allow the use of Semi-Auto rifles and people just don't spray the woods with bullets. Why would they do it here? Are you saying that PA people are less responsible then hunters in other states? Sounds a little like the anti arguments against CCW laws.... the streets will run red with blood!!! and of course it never happens.

There is no good reason that I shouldn't be able to take my Grandfathers Garand to the deer woods and hunt deer.... That would be just as historic as some folks using flintlocks to chase whitetails.

And don't talk to me about magazine restrictions either. It takes me one shot to kill a deer and if I have 29 to back it up.... well that's no ones business but my own.

I get so sick of Laws written for "what ifs" an "this could happen". If you are worried about someone spraying the woods write a law that says, don't spray the woods and shoot responsibly. Don't make a law that says 5 rounds only or 1 bullet in the gun at a time.... that is Guilty until proven innocent thinking and not what this country is founded on.

Beren
June 15, 2006, 10:10 PM
I don't have a problem with the current hunting laws in PA, so long as they reflect the majority will of the hunting population. They aren't an intrusion on your state right to bear arms in defense of yourself. The only gripe I have is the current confusion over carrying your CCW handgun while hunting.

I'm with Steve. I wouldn't want to hunt in the same area as someone who has thirty rounds to spray at a dashing deer. Remember that thing called "sportsmanship?" Give the deer a sporting chance, dude. :neener: Kill it clean and quick with a well-aimed shot.

I /would/ like for it to be legal to hunt with a suppressor. Overall, I think inexpensive, legal suppressors for hunting would create a net increase in safety. Not as much need to worry about hearing protection, so you have greater awareness of your surroundings. I know, some will say it'll increase poaching. While I don't condone poaching, it's not my problem.

mp510
June 15, 2006, 10:29 PM
Aside of getting hit in the face with the brass (I'm a lefty),
Stag Arms makes Lefty AR-type upper.

Tiber
June 15, 2006, 10:41 PM
And don't talk to me about magazine restrictions either. It takes me one shot to kill a deer and if I have 29 to back it up.... well that's no ones business but my own.

While I agree with you in spirit, I think that the best answer to that is moderation.

For the pro gun people: How many 223s can you put into something and still eat it? We're talking about a round with excellent terminal performance hunting people. Taking it to the field means that you're going to have excellent terminal performance hunting deer and other large game. The dimensions are similar. I remember the last deer I took with a 30-30 game king(?), the expansion was excellent, turned both lungs into jello, and took a thumb-sized portion out the other side. Now, putting 4 more behind it and you're really starting to cut into dinner...

For the anti-gun people: I know the immediate reaction is going to be "YOU'RE HUNTING WITH ASSAULT WEAPONS?" No, we're hunting with a versitile, well documented platform. The return-on-investment on an AR is excellent because the lower can be used across many uppers without messing up the bedding (some guns care, some guns don't). But please, I'm going to encourage people to look up the price of a trigger job, and that really justifies the use of the "two halves" system. If anything, the best argument for it in my mind is that I have better control over the weapon if I can shoot many calibers out of the same, familiar, well-built trigger.

I'm with Steve. I wouldn't want to hunt in the same area as someone who has thirty rounds to spray at a dashing deer. Remember that thing called "sportsmanship?" Give the deer a sporting chance, dude. Kill it clean and quick with a well-aimed shot.

This, I think, reflects the attitude from the middle ground. However, I hear people can throw a mauser action very quickly. ;) But, like you say at the bottom, "It's not my problem". I will decide what is appropriately sporting for my ability level. I also believe people own up to the responsibility of whatever sport they're engaging in. How many hunting injuries are there per year? Would you be OK hunting in the same area as someone carrying 15 rounds (http://www.marlinfirearms.com/Firearms/SelfLoading/60.aspx)?

Just as an update to the thread: I forwarded the letter to Senator James J. Rhoades and Representative Bob Allen who oversee the areas I usually haunt. Neither one of them has gotten back to me as of yet, but I emphasized increased tourism, increased interest of young people in shooting sports, and an interest in the technology.

Stag Arms makes Lefty AR-type upper.

Real quickly, because I don't want to get off topic, can I use any barrel with their upper? I've been in touch with their gunsmiths and they said it requires a "special ambi barrel extension" to use the upper. Having looked at the blueprints for the M16, I am given the impression they're just blowing smoke at me, but I'd like to talk to someone who has a lefty from Stag and has replaced the barrel.

carterbeauford
June 15, 2006, 11:09 PM
No auto-loading rifles can be used, ever.

The rare exception being a rifle which the gas system can be switched off turning it into a bolt action, and a 5 round or less magazine installed, such as an SKS.

Steve in PA
June 16, 2006, 08:27 AM
And there are alot of states where you can't hunt with a rifle, period. Shotgun only.

BTW, I too have an AR-15 (Bushy M4) and an M1 Garand. If I want to hunt with the M1, I'd remove the gas plug.

22-rimfire
June 16, 2006, 09:07 AM
Being originally from PA and a hunter, I have no problem with the rule of no hunting with an semi-automatic (excluding shotguns). That being said, I always felt that it might be appropriate to allow hunting of small game with semi-automatic rifles and handguns in PA.

Use of public land continues to increase and I doubt that the semi-auto thing will ever change. Be happy that you can use a rifle.

mp510
June 16, 2006, 11:17 AM
For the anti-gun people: I know the immediate reaction is going to be "YOU'RE HUNTING WITH ASSAULT WEAPONS?" No, we're hunting with a versitile, well documented platform. The return-on-investment on an AR is excellent because the lower can be used across many uppers without messing up the bedding (some guns care, some guns don't). But please, I'm going to encourage people to look up the price of a trigger job, and that really justifies the use of the "two halves" system. If anything, the best argument for it in my mind is that I have better control over the weapon if I can shoot many calibers out of the same, familiar, well-built trigger.
How about catering a little:
Since the AR platform is versatile, and allows the usage of multiple calibers through a single firearm, the number of firearms in circulation will be reduced by the use of AR type arms.

Real quickly, because I don't want to get off topic, can I use any barrel with their upper? I've been in touch with their gunsmiths and they said it requires a "special ambi barrel extension" to use the upper. Having looked at the blueprints for the M16, I am given the impression they're just blowing smoke at me, but I'd like to talk to someone who has a lefty from Stag and has replaced the barrel.
Not sure, I'm right handed. I'm going to contact Stag Arms (local call for me), and ask them :)

LAR-15
June 16, 2006, 06:59 PM
North Carolina has no caliber or magazine capacity restricitions on rifles.

Just no SBRs or full autos.

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