In an America that seems intent on passing laws to limit 2nd Amendment rights, several states are taking steps to proactively protect those rights.
The state of Kentucky is asking voters to approve an amendment to the state constitution that would protect their right to hunt and fish.
“Are you in favor of amending the Kentucky constitution to state that the citizens of Kentucky have the personal right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife, subject to laws and regulations that promote conservation and preserve the future of hunting and fishing?”
The amendment is supported by the National Rifle Association, who fears that “anti-hunting extremists” might one day lobby the Kentucky legislature to outlaw or restrict hunting and fishing. They are pushing similar amendments to the state constitutions of Idaho, Nebraska and Wyomingon the 2012 ballots.13 states have already added these amendments: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
In 7 states, the amendments were considered, but defeated: Hawaii, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Pennsylvania. Mississippi will be reconsidering the amendment on 2014 ballots.
No one is currently threatening the right to hunt or fish, but the NRA wants legislatures to guarantee these rights before the threat occurs. NRA spokeswoman Stephanie Samford stated, “The NRA doesn’t wait for problems to arise to address them. We’re constantly being proactive on our Second Amendment rights.”
Legislators who sponsored the amendment also believe that the right to hunt and fish could be threatened. State Representative Leslie Combs, a Democrat, commented, “There’s always a concern that someone could work to take away your right to hunt using firearms
The National Conference of State Legislatures website discusses both sides of the argument regarding constitutional protection:
Well-organized animal rights groups and limitations on methods, seasons and bag limits for certain game species have provoked many hunter advocacy groups to lobby for hunting and fishing as a right, and their call is being heard in statehouses across the country. Twenty-two states, including 12 in 2008 alone, have introduced legislation or ballot measures on this issue, with Oklahoma and Tennessee’s measures passing in 2008 and Oklahoma’s headed to the ballot in November (it later passed). Senator Glen Coffee, sponsor of the Oklahoma resolution, noted that hunting and fishing have “Historically been unfettered rights,” and “Oklahoma was formed by populist people and our constitution is very long already, so I think people do think it is the appropriate place to address this.” Senator Coffee feels good about the referendum’s chance of success in November. Opponents state that these provisions clutter a constitution and overstate the threat to these activities, while possibly limiting or increasing the amount and severity of restrictions that can be placed on sportsmen activities. The Humane Society states, “The constitution should guarantee fundamental democratic rights, not provide protection for a recreational pastime.”
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