Four More States Propose Right To Hunt And Fish Constitutional Amendment
Friday, July 23, 2010
If you hunt, fish or simply enjoy viewing the wonders of our
flourishing wildlife populations and happen to live in Arizona,
Arkansas, South Carolina or Tennessee, you have one more compelling
reason to vote on November 2, 2010. These states have proposed
state constitutional amendments on their general election ballots
that provide meaningful and permanent protections for sportsmen and
science driven wildlife management.
In the November 2007 and September 2008 issues of this
publication, I wrote articles detailing NRA's leadership and
interest in developing new and improved language for these
amendments. Instead of the old language that simply provided for a
right to hunt and fish "pursuant to laws and regulations," NRA 's
new provisions offer specific defenses against known and predicted
threats from the radical animal "rights" extremists like those at
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS ). The old model
arguably allows any laws and regulations short of an outright ban
on all hunting.
The 2008 article specifically discussed the NRA -backed amendment
that passed the Oklahoma State Legislature by a combined vote of
143-2. It urged Oklahomans to go to the polls and support our
outdoor heritage. They answered the call in overwhelming numbers,
and NRA 's model language became a permanent part of the state
constitution with 80 percent voter approval. I predicted that
"success in Oklahoma will lead to a wave of meaningful protections
in other states as well." It is clear that this wave has, indeed,
begun to build. It is now up to the voters in these four new states
to ensure the momentum continues.
As a reminder of what we are all up against, HSUS spends more than
$120 million each year lobbying and litigating against hunting,
science-based wildlife management (i.e. delisting of healthy wolf
populations in the Rocky Mountains and Great Lakes), pet ownership
and animal agriculture. It is likely this number will grow
dramatically this fiscal year as it is nearly impossible to watch
television (Fox News Channel in particular) without seeing HSUS '
President, Wayne Pacelle, misleading Americans into contributing
"... just $19 a month … to eliminate animal cruelty everywhere."
Contrary to donors' perceptions, the Center for Consumer Freedom
reports that less than one percent of the group's enormous annual
budget actually goes to hands-on animal care shelters.
Pacelle has told the Associated Press, "If we could shut down all
sport hunting in a moment, we would." He provided further detail
with regard to his incremental strategy borrowed from the gun
prohibitionists when he told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, "Our goal
is to get sport hunting in the same category as cock fighting and
Our opponents say that hunting is a tradition. We say traditions
can change." Michael Markarian, HSUS ' top lobbyist, had an
all-too-rare bout with honesty-although forced-during his
congressional testimony last fall. In a committee hearing,
Congressman Don Young, R-Alaska, asked Markarian what kind of
hunting HSUS supported.
After refusing to answer the question and requiring Young to
demand an answer six times, he admitted, "We're not against all
hunting. We're not against subsistence hunting in your state of
Alaska." It should not provide comfort to anyone to hear this as an
answer to a question regarding the kind of hunting the group
supports. Of course, its poll-tested, overused line (Markarian
repeated it later in the hearing) is that it opposes only the "most
unsporting and inhumane hunting practices." The truth is
clear-nothing short of a total ban on regulated hunting is HSUS '
Words are one thing and actions another. HSUS has been behind the
prohibition of the hunting of deer, bears, cougars, doves,
pheasants and other species in states and political subdivisions.
If there is a policy proposal to ban hunting, its lobbying
machinery will be set in motion. We can look to other countries,
too. It's hard to believe, but Switzerland recently banned
catch-and-release fishing because it's allegedly too cruel to the
Do you think fisherman there could have used a Right to Hunt and
Fish? Motivated by the constant threats posed by the radicals, this
latest round of amendments in these four states involved a great
deal of work and cooperation with state game agencies, commissions,
legislators and other interested parties. This is illustrated by
the fact that the language in each state is different in order to
address unique concerns and issues. Anyone who claims that NRA is
unwilling to negotiate, listen and address legitimate concerns is
wrong, plain and simple.
Our most recent effort focused on Arizona. NRA worked diligently
with game and fish department officials for three months prior to
the legislative session to arrive at mutually acceptable language.
The commission voted 4-1 to support the amendment. Arizona's
language is excellent. Word by word, NRA 's model seems to improve
with the experience garnered in each state.
With that said, there are six core tenets that we believe should
be a part of any comprehensive constitutional protection regardless
of how the specific language reads once the negotiations are over.
These tenets are:
1. Recognition of an individual right to hunt, fish and harvest
2. Preservation of the state's power to regulate these activities
for scientific- not political or emotional-reasons (the 19th
century showed us what happens when there is little or no
3. Preemption of the kind of local regulation that frustrates
comprehensive, statewide wildlife management
4. Protection of traditional hunting methods like archery tackle
and bird dogs
5. Recognition of hunting and fishing as a preferred means of
managing wildlife in order to protect against dangerous
contraception schemes and unwarranted use of government
6. Clarification that private property rights are not affected or
Today we, as gun owners, owe an undying debt of gratitude to
James Madison and our other Founding Fathers who had the foresight
to enshrine our natural right to arms in the Second
It was a right taken for granted at the time but those brilliant
men knew things might change. Future generations will look back to
our present times and be equally thankful about what we are doing
to defend hunting from political attacks.
As Henry Clay wrote, "The Constitution of the United States was
made not merely for the generation that existed, but for
posterity-unlimited, undefined, endless, perpetual posterity." This
applies just as well to state constitutions.
Now it is in the hands of the voters to carry the efforts across
the finish line.
If you live in any one of these states or have friends or family
who do, spread the word! Make sure that votes are cast on November
2 to permanently protect our hunting heritage.