The Virginia General Assembly
recently a proved a state constitutional amendment that would guarantee
Virginians the right to hunt and fish in that state. The amendment passed
the Virginia state Senate 24 to 16. It must still be approved by voters
in the November election.
The amendment specifically
alters the state constitution to read that “the people have a right to
hunt, fish, and harvest game, subject to such regulations as the General
Assembly may prescribe by general law.”
The bill was opposed by groups
and individuals afraid it might weaken local gun control statutes in Virginia
cities as well as localized bans on hunting within some city limits. “Do
you really want hunting in your incorporated cities and towns?” asked
Republican Sen. William C. Mims during the debate on the measure.
Whether the amendment would
override local gun control or hunting regulations is debatable since most
such restrictions are on state-owned land and the result of strictures
passed by the state legislature, which would clearly remain constitutional
under the new amendment.
Before the vote the Humane
Society of the United States issued a press release opposing the amendment
and is likely to campaign against it in November. According to an HSUS
House Joint Resolution 124 (HJR 124) is a radical proposition
that amends the state constitution so that it designates hunting, fishing,
and the harvesting of game as constitutional rights. . . . Virginia citizens,
contact your state senator today and urge him or her to vote against HJR
124. Point out that Virginia’s constitution does not even guarantee citizens
the right to basic needs such as food, shelter or health care, so make
this effort to provide constitutional protection to recreational pursuits
is extremely inappropriate and offensive.
But of course, all the amendment
does at the end of the day is reaffirm the legitimacy of property rights
in animals-a principle that, despite all of it claims that it is not an
animal rights organization, HSUS clearly seems to stand diametrically
assembly passes right-to-hunt amendment. Washington Post, March 1,
Virginia: Don’t make
hunting and trapping constitutional rights. Press release, Human Society
of the United States, February 24, 2000.