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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 12, 2018 01:29 PM
From: Representative Sheryl M. Delozier
To: All House members
Subject: Protecting Second Amendment Rights During Emergencies
I hope you will join me in sponsoring urgent legislation needed to protect the Second Amendment rights of lawful firearm owners in light of the governor’s recent disaster declaration.

As you know, the governor issued a disaster proclamation related to the Commonwealth’s opioid crisis. I absolutely agree that the scourge of opioid, heroin and other illegal drugs, which are killing our citizens, must be fought in every way possible. A disaster declaration gives the governor vast powers, which I hope and trust he will use to help our citizens expeditiously address the opioid crisis.

But a disaster declaration under Title 35 has certain automatic effects, which I do not believe that the governor contemplated before issuing his proclamation. One such effect under Title 18 is that a declaration criminalizes the open carrying in public or on public property of any firearm – whether a handgun, rifle or shotgun. The intent of this prohibition is to protect communities from looting and criminal behavior in the time of a natural disaster, and would last for the full duration of the declared disaster. While the declaration of disaster for the opioid crisis gives the state tools to use to help Pennsylvania citizens in this public health crisis, the issue addressed under Title 18 in the declaration is not necessary and should not be in effect.

My bill would simply provide that the prohibition against open carrying of an otherwise lawful firearm only applies if the disaster declaration expressly declares that such a prohibition is required to maintain public safety. Because the governor’s disaster declaration made no such declaration, upon enactment of this bill, firearm owners’ Second Amendment rights would once again be secure in Pennsylvania.

Introduced as HB2016