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PA – GUN CONTROL – Wolf to veto bills on carrying, selling guns amid disasters

Gov. Tom Wolf will veto legislation heading to his desk that would repeal long-standing laws intended to control the carrying of guns and prevent public officials from shutting down firearms sales during disaster emergencies declared by a governor. Wolf, a Democrat who has advocated for broader gun control measures, opposes the bills, his office said Thursday. The bills are the latest to pass the Republican-controlled Legislature that sought to limit Wolf’s powers during the existing coronavirus disaster emergency and beyond. Wolf has vetoed more than a half-dozen such bills. “The current disaster declarations in place are meant to help the administration fight the public health crises at hand and have no impact on citizens and their firearm rights,” Wolf’s office said in a statement. Both bills passed the Senate by identical 29-20 votes on Wednesday, with the lone independent senator and every Republican but one backing them and every Democrat but one against them. Both received approval from the state House this year. One bill would repeal a provision that says “no person shall carry a firearm upon the public streets or upon any public property,” although people who have a concealed-carry license are exempt. If signed by Wolf, the bill might not change much; it has long been unenforced, lawmakers say. However, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Matthew Dowling, R-Fayette, said the law could be used to limit people from open carrying a firearm, which is not generally prohibited in Pennsylvania. The bill also would repeal a longstanding provision giving the governor the power to suspend or limit the sale of firearms during a disaster emergency. Governors can invoke a disaster emergency to bypass existing state laws and regulations to help respond to a disaster. The other bill is designed to prevent a governor or local government from shuttering businesses related to firearms and ammunition during a disaster emergency. Those include retailers, manufacturers, shooting ranges, clubs and hunting preserves.  [full article]

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