Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed House Bill 263 this week, allowing hunters to use semiautomatic and air- and gas-powered rifles.
The measure does not affect the upcoming hunting season, which begins Monday.
But it does give the state Game Commission the OK to add those weapons as approved firearms for future seasons, most likely the next one, which starts in July 2017.
The commission board is scheduled to meet in January to set seasonal and bag limits for 2017. Its spokesman told the York Daily Record it’s likely a discussion about including these firearms will be on the agenda. If approved, the change would take effect April.
Unlike a manual firearm, hunters are able to shoot faster with semiautomatic rifles because the shell will eject and the gun will reload automatically. Should the Game Commission board approve the measure, Pennsylvania will become the 49th state to allow such weapons for hunting.