A Pennsylvania bill that would legalize AR-15 style semi-automatic rifles for hunting is being criticized by hunters themselves.
The bill proposed in 2013 by Republican Rep. Rick Saccone claims that rapid follow-up shots will increase the odds of harvesting game. Saccone says only two states have banned their use and that there is nothing “frightening or extreme in this proposal.”
A deer hunter of 54 years who wrote an op-ed for YDR.com says the proposal will make hunting unsafe and unethical.
“Marksmanship is the essence of an ethical deer hunt. Spraying 11 shots at a deer (or group of deer) has little to do with marksmanship or ethics," James A. Morabit, of Monroeville, wrote.
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“The people who want these firearms feel they have fewer rights than hunters in other states, but these hunters are not the only ones with rights,” Morabit said. “I have a right to be reasonably safe while hunting with my family, and being exposed to barrages of gunfire from firearms designed for police work and warfare is a reckless hazard that cannot be allowed.”
He worried that “private hunting areas are becoming harder to find and landowners would be reluctant to expose themselves to these guns.
"If Rep. Saccone ever experienced the eruption of gunfire and bullets whizzing around him as I have, he would not say there is 'nothing frightening or extreme,'" he added. "The lawmaker’s job is to protect and serve the citizens of Pennsylvania, and we have an excellent safety record. He is expected to assist that effort, not to loosen the safety standards to the levels of other states."
"As far as I'm concerned, I'm happy with what we have now," said Butler County resident Brian Allison, who is an employee of Gun World in Harrisville.
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Vanango County resident Nate Jacoby says he supports the bill and would like to be able to do more with his expensive semi-automatic rifles.
"We have a lot of money tied up in these guns, and it kind of stinks that all we can do with them is target shoot and plink at the range all day," Jacoby told the Post-Gazette. "We're really behind a lot of other states on this thing."
Lowell Graybill, president of the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Club, said many long-time hunters do not see the point in using semi-automatic guns to hunt, but they are called to the mat to dispute gun restrictions.
"It's a tough call," Graybill said.
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