RALEIGH – The Republicans on Jones Street, after quickly passing budget modifications, moved on to legislation adding constitutional amendment referenda to the November ballot. First it was Voter ID; then a cap on the state income tax at 5.5 percent; and, now an amendment to protect the right to hunt and fish in North Carolina.
Senate Bill 677 originally filed in 2017, got the nod of approval from state senators Wednesday and, once received by the House Thursday, passed one reading, was reported favorably by committee and is back on the calendar.
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While it’s not immediately obvious what threats to hunting and fishing there are to the average person, hunters and fisherman know that these pastimes are increasingly squeezed by all sorts of government and bureaucratic authorities, environmentalists, and animal rights activists.
Additionally, and perhaps more threatening, is the anti-gun lobby that consistently pressures government to enact stricter (and unconstitutional) gun laws and regulations. It is not merely “assault rifles” that bear the brunt of this Leftist movement. Increasingly, simple shotguns and rifles come under fire by anti-gun activists, as well as pushes for raising the legal age of gun ownership. The latter begins to threaten the inherent rights of parents to raise children with a hunting heritage.
Of course, it’s political, too. A right to hunt and fish amendment will most certainly draw out rural voters to the voting booth one election day, giving a boost to Republicans. North Carolina has one of the largest rural populations in the country.
But it’s not just Republicans that support such a move. A recent Civitas poll on a handful of potential constitutional amendments found that 72 percent support it.
Actually, a Wednesday post by Civitas editor Ray Nothstine points out just how incredibly popular such constitutional protections are – North Carolina and Florida are the only states in the Southeast to NOT have such a right to hunt and fish enshrined in their state constitutions.
While the amendment language is careful not to change or negate any existing laws or regulations, it does further safeguard hunting and fishing in the face of increasingly extreme policy proposals by Democrats.