HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday vetoed two gun-related bills he dismissed as “meaningless” bids to shield the gun industry as the state seeks to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The measures — House Bill 2440 and House Bill 1747 — would have repealed a ban on openly carrying firearms during an emergency, bar the governor from stopping the sale of ammunition and firearms during an emergency and protected sportsman clubs, shooting ranges and gun shops from being included in a government shutdown order.

Wolf, in a veto message, said the legislation would be “an infringement on the authority and responsibility” of the governor during an emergency.

“Tough choices must be made during a disaster emergency in order to protect the public safety and welfare of the people of Pennsylvania,” Wolf said in his veto message. “This bill represents another meaningless attempt to alter the necessary tools for fighting the pandemic,” he said.

House Bill 2440 was authored by state Rep, Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny County, who’d said it was inspired by the fact that sportsmen's clubs hadn’t originally been deemed “essential” businesses when the governor ordered a statewide shutdown in the spring.

“We were able to demonstrate that many of these businesses were able to reopen safely,” Kortz said in a statement prior to Wolf’s veto.

Wolf’s vetoes were welcomed by the gun control group Moms Demand Action

“With this veto, Governor Wolf has taken a stand against the gun lobby’s dangerous agenda,” said Marybeth Christiansen, a volunteer with the Pennsylvania chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Loosening gun laws will only threaten public safety and worsen Pennsylvania’s gun violence crisis. We’re thankful for this veto and will rest easier knowing we have a governor who will protect our communities,” she said.

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