Pennsylvania’s GOP Lawmakers Really Want 18-Year-Olds to Have Assault-Style Rifles

HARRISBURG, PA - MAY 15: A man with an assault rifle reacts while joining demonstrators outside the Pennsylvania Capitol Building to protest the continued closure of businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic on May 15, 2020 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

By Ashley Adams

June 21, 2022

For the second week in a row, state Republican lawmakers used their majority to defeat gun safety proposals that attempt to address the ongoing gun violence in the country.

Pennsylvania House Republicans want 18-year-olds to have access to assault-style rifles, and they are going the constitutional amendment route to achieve that goal.

On Tuesday, GOP lawmakers blocked a proposal preventing those ages 18 to 21 from purchasing, possessing, or transporting assault-style rifles, and changed the bill to a constitutional amendment allowing anyone to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. The vote was nearly on party lines, with only one Republican—Rep. Todd Stephens (Montgomery)—voting against it.

By using their political power to force a constitutional amendment, Republicans are trying to avoid Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s veto pen. A constitutional amendment needs to pass both the House and Senate in two consecutive sessions before being put on the ballot for voters to decide. The governor would have no say in the matter. State Republicans have been trying a similar tactic with reproductive rights.

So-called “constitutional carry” has wide support among the Legislature’s Republicans, but a bill to allow it was vetoed by Wolf in December.

Wolf was among the state’s Democratic politicians who took to social media to push back on the GOP’s efforts.

It was the second week in a row that Republicans in the Judiciary Committee used their majority to defeat Democratic proposals to address the country’s gun violence plague. Last week, the committee voted to ask the speaker to send four other gun bills to another committee, effectively stopping action on proposals regarding safe gun storage, an assault weapons ban, a red flag bill, and a measure to give local governments power to enact their own protections.

All Republicans but one on the committee also voted for a proposal to amend the state constitution to give the General Assembly the power to decide the rules about where civil lawsuits can be filed.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.


  • Ashley Adams

    In her 16 years in the communications industry, Ashley Adams has worn many hats, including news reporter, public relations writer, marketing specialist, copy editor and technical writer. Ashley grew up in Berks County and has since returned to her roots to raise her three children.

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