– Rep. Matthew Dowling (R-Fayette/Somerset) drafted legislation that would prevent legal gun owners’ rights from being dashed during emergency declarations, such as the declaration initiated by Gov. Tom Wolf for more than eight months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, Pennsylvania’s Crimes Code makes it illegal to possess an otherwise lawful firearm on the public streets or on any public property during an emergency declared by a state or municipal government, subject to certain exemptions.
“Just yesterday, news broke of Allegheny County suspending issuance of all licenses to carry a firearm. The Firearms Division is closed until further notice because of a positive COVID-19 case, and no online services exist for residents who wish to obtain a license,” Dowling said. “Pennsylvanians are being left without a way to exercise their constitutional rights, which is exactly the fear I had before I drafted the bill.”
House Bill 1747
would have also repealed part of the Health and Safety Code that gives the governor the power to suspend or limit the sale of firearms and other items during a disaster emergency declaration.
Wolf vetoed the bill, which received support from both chambers of the General Assembly.
“Law-abiding Americans shouldn’t lose their rights because of a pandemic or anything else. Especially with the increased violence in communities across the state, people need to be able to protect themselves. This veto is a tremendous disappointment,” Dowling added.
Representative Matt Dowling
51st Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Alison Evans