HARRISBURG — A Cumberland County lawmaker says the disaster emergency Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf declared this week to bolster the fight against heroin and opioid addiction may have unintended consequences for gun owners.
Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland) says declaring an emergency activates an automatic trigger in state law that criminalizes the open carrying of firearms in public or on public property. She said the intent of the law is to protect communities from looting and criminal behavior in the time of a natural disaster.
“While this may make sense in the context of a natural disaster, it could cause problems for law-abiding citizens now,” Delozier said in a statement Friday. “This is because the governor declared a public health emergency, which has never before been done in Pennsylvania.”
Delozier said she applauds the governor’s efforts to take action on the opioid crisis, but she’s disappointed with the route he chose.
She said she’s proposing legislation to address the issue. Her bill would allow open carrying of legal firearms during a state of emergency unless a disaster declaration expressly forbids it.
The bill would apply retroactively to Jan. 9., the day before Wolf declared the heroin and opioid epidemic a statewide disaster emergency.