Pennsylvania/Kentucky longrifle
Pennsylvania/Kentucky longrifle

The commonwealth of Pennsylvania has 19 official state symbols, ranging from a state fossil to an electric locomotive.

The state named the firefly its official insect decades before the Brown Marmorated Stinkbug emerged. Milk is the official beverage, and the ruffed grouse is its game bird.

One thing the Keystone State doesn't have is an official gun, but one local legislator would like to take a shot at it.

Sen. Richard Alloway II, R-Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties, last month proposed a bill to name the Pennsylvania Long Rifle the state's official firearm.

Alloway, an avid sportsman who took to the woods for the first day of rifle season on Monday, said the idea came to him after a conversation with a constituent who praised the historic rifle.

Now mostly relegated to safe storage at the hands of antique collectors, the rifles were developed by 18th-century gunsmiths in Northampton and Lancaster counties, Alloway said Tuesday.

Developed in Pa.: "It was the first truly American firearm in North America and was developed in Pennsylvania," he said. "It became something that was truly American and was used on the frontier during the fur trade as a survival tool."

Alloway, who describes himself as a "strong defender of the Second Amendment," said the rifle designation "recognizes Pennsylvania's strong Second Amendment heritage and its contribution to America. I know it's not earth-shattering stuff, but it's one of the things I think is worth doing and I expect to get it done."


How much support the proposal will gain remains to be seen. Sen. Mike Waugh, R-Shrewsbury Township, was a co-sponsor of the bill, Senate Bill 1192, which was assigned to the Senate's State Government Committee on Nov. 22 and is awaiting a vote.

But it doesn't have the support of all of Alloway's fellow York County Senate Republicans.

Reaction: Sen. Pat Vance, R-Cumberland and York counties, said she doesn't see the point.

"I'm not sure I'm real big on making anything official," she said. "Many things contributed to our history. There are a lot of things that enrich our commonwealth, but I'm not sure we should be picking one out."

She said it is indeed a beautiful rifle, and she even has one hanging over her fireplace in her old farmhouse. She doesn't object to honoring a firearm, she said.

But naming a state firearm is "just not really what I think we should be doing," she said.

What should they be doing?

"Pensions," she said. "And we have a difficult budget coming."

Sen. Rob Teplitz, D-York and Dauphin counties, said his only reservation is whether another name needs to be added to the list of "official this and official that."

It doesn't really mean anything to be the "official something" of a state, he said.

"I think it makes for interesting trivia, but beyond that, I'm not sure it has any real value," he said.

Teplitz said he doesn't have any reservations about honoring the gun.

"I think if the focus is on the historical nature of it, then it may be appropriate to give it that honor," Teplitz said.

Though he's not sure it's really necessary, he'll probably vote for it if it comes up for a vote, he said.

The state's most recent symbolic designation was adopted Nov. 29, 1990, when the aptly named "Pennsylvania" became the state song.

-- Reach Christina Kauffman at