New Castle News


June 20, 2014

Our Opinion: Sportsman’s group seeks an end to Sunday restrictions

NEW CASTLE — Pennsylvania’s ban on most Sunday hunting is undoubtedly a relic of the state’s old Blue Laws.

But while most of those rules — that sought to restrict business and recreational activities on Sundays, mainly for religious reasons — have fallen by the wayside, the hunting ban remains.

That’s interesting, because hunters are a powerful lobby in the largely rural commonwealth. And hunting certainly generates revenue in Pennsylvania.

Yet despite repeated efforts, attempts to legalize Sunday hunting have failed. That’s because some opponents have clout as well.

Among them are farm organizations. Family farms remain a staple across the commonwealth, and many of the folks who live on them have made it clear to their legislators that they prefer some peace and quiet on their properties on Sundays.

Those properties are often available for hunting on other days of the week.

Frustrated in Harrisburg, advocates for Sunday hunting have turned to the courts, seeking to have Pennsylvania’s ban declared unconstitutional. This week, a federal judge rejected such arguments.

The lawsuit, brought by a group called Hunters United for Sunday Hunting, claimed Pennsylvania’s ban was a violation of the Second Amendment. U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane said she could find no case law supporting that contention.

And we would agree. While there are differences over what rights, specifically, are protected by the Second Amendment, there is absolutely no indication the Founding Fathers were thinking about recreational hunting or any hunting for that matter.

Likewise, Kane refused to accept the group’s argument that a Sunday hunting ban was an infringement on the public’s religious rights. While such an argument might carry weight in a broad legal attack on the state’s old Blue Laws, it failed to persuade when it comes to existing hunting bans.

The way we see it, here’s the bottom line: There is no constitutional right to hunt, either in Pennsylvania or in the United States. Challenging Pennsylvania’s restrictions on Sunday hunting on those grounds is bound to be unsuccessful.

Advocates for expanded Sunday hunting have only one avenue for success, and that’s getting the Legislature to change the law.

While they have been thwarted in the past, that doesn’t mean future attempts are doomed to failure. This is a case where good old-fashioned citizen advocacy is the mechanism for achieving results. Popular demand, along with arguments that show economic strength, can be powerful tools in this regard.

Yet supporters of Sunday hunting need to recognize that some Pennsylvanians are just as adamant on the other side of the issue. They too, are free to express themselves.

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