Time to End the Sunday Hunting Ban

Virginia remains one of a handful of states that still bans hunting on Sundays. In an attempt to lift the ban, outdoor groups, retailers and gun rights organizations have come together under the umbrella of the Virginia Sunday Hunting Coalition. The group has the obligatory page for emailing one’s legislators, which can be effective (but much more so if directed to your particular General Assembly members). But the real interest is in the bills filed on the matter.

in the House we have…

HB 369 would lift the ban on privately-owned land (yes, you aren’t allowed to hunt on Sundays on your own land).

HB 921 would allow only licensed hunters to hunt on Sundays.

HB 989 is a general repeal of the Sunday hunting ban.

HB 1002 would repeal the ban only in Fauquier, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties.

In the Senate…

SB 151 is a general repeal of the Sunday ban and…

SB 173 would end the ban for private property owners and those hunting, with written permission, on private property.

This should be an easy one, particularly for those who believe in private property rights. It’s made easier by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries endorsing the ban’s end , with the understanding that, if approved, “…this action will affect a much broader stakeholder group than just hunters, and the Board will engage these groups in dialogue before passing any new regulations.”

So what’s been the hang-up in getting the ban lifted. It could be as simple as inertia. But as Ken Perrotte wrote last year, the opposition to lifting the ban is quite strong:

Behind the scenes, lobbyists pound home messages. Blog and forum websites detail unsurprising opposition from the Humane Society of the United States (one of the world’s most avowed anti-hunting outfits).

An HSUS appeal to birdwatchers beseeches them to preserve one day a week to enjoy nature in peace, as well as announces efforts to form the Coalition to Preserve Safe Sunday Recreation. It appears some horseback riding and bicycling groups also oppose Sunday hunting.

Perrotte’s column is worth reading in full to see the odd reasons why some want to keep the ban. My favorite is this one:

The Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance outlines opposition mainly on religious grounds, while simultaneously supporting legislative changes to allow training bear hounds at night, even on Sunday! No rest for the bears, it appears?

I guess not.

It’s also interesting to note that one of the keenest proponents of lifting the ban is Democratic Sen. Chap Petersen, as is Sen. Phil Puckett. Here’s hoping that Republicans, who, we are repeatedly told, value both gun and private property rights, join them in ending a ban that runs counter to both of these foundational concepts.