HARRISBURG – Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland) today circulated a co-sponsorship memo to address a possible unintended consequence to Second Amendment rights as a result of the governor’s declaration of a state of emergency in the fight against opioid addiction.
Delozier noted the House and Senate have worked together over the past several years to pass legislation signed by the governor to address the opioid epidemic. She also stood on the Capitol steps with her Republican and Democratic colleagues on June 23, 2016, to urge Gov. Tom Wolf to call for a Special Session on the opioid crisis.
“The opioid crisis hitting our Commonwealth, our neighborhoods and our families is not a Republican or Democrat issue, but a public health crisis without partisan lines,” Delozier said. “While I applaud the governor’s efforts to take action, there are problems and consequences to the route he unilaterally chose, and I’m disappointed he did this without a full understanding of the impacted laws.
“By declaring an emergency,” she added, “he activated an automatic trigger in the Crimes Code. This trigger deals with Second Amendment rights. While this may make sense in the context of a natural disaster, it could cause problems for law-abiding citizens now. This is because the governor declared a public health emergency, which has never before been done in Pennsylvania.”
The co-sponsor memo from Rep. Delozier is below:
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.
The 88th Legislative District in Cumberland County includes Lower Allen and Upper Allen townships and the boroughs of Lemoyne, Mechanicsburg, New Cumberland, Shiremanstown and Wormleysburg.