Commentary

A constitutional amendment on hunting and fishing? Why not baseball, bird watching and bowling?

If you needed compelling evidence that past it’s time for North Carolina lawmakers to end the 2016 session and get the heck out of town, consider the fact that the state Senate is seriously considering an amendment to the state Constitution to guarantee the right to hunt and fish. As syndicated columnist Patrick Gannon explains in an essay in the Jefferson Post, this is a nutty idea. Here’s the excellent conclusion:

“Don’t get me wrong. Fishing is one of my favorite things to do and has been for most of my life. I’m not a hunter, but I have nothing against hunting, as long as it’s done legally, safely and humanely.

But this proposed constitutional amendment is perilously close on the asinine index to a bill filed a few years ago to require couples seeking divorce in North Carolina to be separated for two years instead of one. (Yes, a real-life senator filed that bill.)

I also enjoy baseball, birdwatching and bowling, but they shouldn’t be protected in our state’s founding documents, even if college basketball threatens to dethrone baseball as the national pastime or bowling balls get regulated because they can fall on your toes.

Yes, 19 states guarantee the right to hunt and fish in their constitutions, with 17 of those approved by voters, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Vermont’s language dates back to 1777, but the rest have passed since 1996. (I’m guessing the sponsors in those states were up for re-election, too.)

The hunting and fishing amendment, just so you know, would be Section 38 of the Constitution, right after a section on the rights of crime victims, including ‘the right as prescribed by law to be informed of and to be present at court proceedings of the accused.’ It would be a few sections down from the right to bear arms.

Senate Bill 889 currently resides in the Senate Rules Committee, where some bills go to die and others get resurrected. I can only hope in this case it’s the former. But if the constitutional amendment shows up on your ballot in November, vote against it.

As Big Bird would sing, it ‘just doesn’t belong’ in the Constitution.”

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