House Votes to Name Official Pennsylvania ‘State Firearm’

State Rep. Mark B. Cohen, of Philadelphia, railed against the House's vote to name the long rifle the official state firearm of Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to name the long rifle the state firearm of Pennsylvania on Monday. That’s right: Soon you’ll be able to take a state gun (the long rifle) and shoot the state bird (the ruffed grouse) before celebrating with the state drink (milk).

The vote prompted an impassioned response from a State Rep. Mark B. Cohen, one of many Philadelphia-area representatives to vote against the bill.

“Having a state gun is deeply offensive to many people in Pennsylvania,” Cohen said on the floor. “We ought not to pass this amendment. We ought to show some sensitivity to the loss of human life.”

State Sen. Pat Browne first introduced a bill naming the Pennsylvania long rifle the state gun in 2010. Gun-rights activists have pushed for official state firearm designations for the last five years, with four states adopting official guns.

The Pennsylvania long rifle was used by colonial settlers of Pennsylvania and carried by hunters and soldiers. It was developed by gun makers in Northampton and Lancaster counties. It could be shot accurately at 100 yards, about double the usual accuracy. “If you have to have a state gun, I believe it’s the most logical choice,” firearms expert Randy Hackenburg said in 2010.

The vote was actually an amendment to House Bill 1989, which originally just designated the Piper J-3 Cub the official aircraft of Pennsylvania. It passed 157-39.