Gun Rights Advocates Complain Pennsylvania Opioid Crisis Will Take Away Their Firearms

The Pennsylvania state capitol building

The Pennsylvania state capitol building

Wolf signed a sweeping 90-day disaster declaration on Wednesday characterizing the state's heroin and opioid problem a public health emergency, saying he was using "every tool at my disposal to get those suffering from substance use disorders into treatment, save more lives, and improve response coordination".

Concerns over gun carrying rights surfaced after Republican state Sen. and gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner called the declaration, issued by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf this week, sloppy, pointing to a statute that prohibits carrying a firearm in public during an emergency without a concealed carry permit or hunting license.

"While I earlier commended Governor Wolf for coming to the table to provide long overdue leadership on the opioid epidemic, further review of his statewide disaster emergency declaration has made it clear that he took the wrong approach", Wagner said in a statement.

According to the Pennsylvania State Code, "No person shall carry a firearm upon the public streets or upon any public property during an emergency proclaimed by a State or municipal governmental executive". "The sloppiness of this declaration is another example of the incompetence of this administration, and calls into question whether this was a good faith effort from the Governor to help those suffering from addiction or just another thoughtless political ploy to silence the critics who've been saying hasn't done almost enough on the issue".

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Emergency declarations are usually used this time of year for winter weather.

J.J. Abbott, a spokesman for Wolf, said the governor's declaration does not allow for law enforcement to seize firearms.

Wolf has recently after emerging intact from another budget standoff with Republicans in the state legislature. The governor, Abbott added, has ensured his action "has no impact on citizens and their firearm rights".

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