Earlier this week, legislation (SB 464) to end the ban on Sunday hunting failed by a 4-3 vote in a subcommittee of the Virginia House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources. The measure, which had previously sailed through the Senate and enjoyed broad bi-partisan support amongst rank-and-file Republicans and Democrats in the House, was killed by an apparent absence of GOP leadership. The full House never had an opportunity to express the will of their constituents state- wide.
Allowing sportsmen in Virginia to go afield on Sundays was part of larger effort to increase participation in hunting that also involved improving access and opportunity for sportsmen living in the commonwealth. Since most hunters take to the field on weekends, removing barriers to Sunday hunting would have effectively doubled the value of most hunters’ licenses. It would also address the blatant discrimination sportsmen face — discrimination that no other sport or activity participant contends with. This prejudice also extends to private property rights, as sportsmen are prohibited from hunting on their own land.
The benefits of Sunday hunting extend well beyond the sportsmen’s community. An economic impact report released by a coalition of America’s leading conservation, sportsmen’s and hunting organizations had found that removal of Sunday hunting restrictions would result in an estimated 3,927 new Virginia jobs. The report also noted that these jobs would pay more than $105 million in wages and contribute more than $296 million in additional economic activity to the commonwealth.
“We’re disappointed not to have Sunday hunting pass this year,” said Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) – the trade association for the firearms industry. “Still, we made significant headway in helping to educate Virginians on the importance of this pro-gun, pro-hunting and pro-economic legislation. For the first time ever in Virginia, a significant Sunday hunting measure passed both a full committee and floor vote. We will most certainly be back next session.”
NSSF is a member of the Sunday hunting coalition which includes the National Rifle Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Archery Trade Association, Bass Pro Shops, Boone and Crockett Club, Cabela’s, Delta Waterfowl, Mule Deer Foundation, National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses, Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, Quality Deer Management Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Safari Club International, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance and the Wildlife Management Institute.