by Chris Cox - Monday, February 2, 2015
Today, hunting in the United States is under attack like never before. Anti-hunters, often masked as animal “rights” activists, are using scare tactics and junk science to deceptively chip away at our hunting freedoms. The Institute for Legislative Action’s full-time legislative and legal staff is actively engaged in protecting hunters by working with lawmakers to introduce pro-hunting legislation and to defend against anti-hunting efforts.
Right to Hunt and Fish
For almost a decade, ILA has led the charge to protect hunting through the adoption of Right to Hunt and Fish (RTHF) state constitutional amendments. Because anti-hunting extremists are launching sophisticated attacks and pumping millions of dollars into efforts to eliminate hunting, it is critical for states to adopt these constitutional safeguards. They are written to enshrine in state constitutions the right of the people to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife now and for generations to come. Oklahoma was the first state to adopt ILA’s RTHF model language in 2008. Since then, eight states have adopted the model with an average of 80-90 percent voter approval. Currently, 18 states have some version of RTHF in their state constitutions. Each year, ILA strategically targets a handful of states for a RTHF amendment with the goal of adopting these essential safeguards in as many states as possible.
Hunter Recruitment & Retention
Outdated blue laws from the 18th century are another way in which some states restrict hunters. Sunday hunting restrictions or prohibitions still exist in 11 Eastern states. ILA will continue to promote America’s great hunting heritage by working to repeal these outdated laws. For example, we celebrated a major pro-hunting victory during the last legislative session, when the governor of Virginia signed a law repealing much of the archaic ban on Sunday hunting in the commonwealth.
ILA constantly seeks to increase hunter recruitment and retention, such as promoting efforts to allow the use of firearm sound suppressors for hunting. There are numerous benefits to hunting with suppressed firearms: reduced noise complaints; reduced recoil and muzzle rise, which helps increase accuracy; and protection against hearing loss. It is a common misconception that a suppressor “silences” a gun, as often portrayed in movies; in reality, a suppressor simply reduces sound to a safe level for hearing. In 2014, ILA had success in passing suppressor legislation in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Ohio.
ILA also advances legislation for programs such as “Open Fields” and “No-Net-Loss” to maintain and increase the amount of hunting land open to the public. Finding a place to hunt becomes increasingly difficult every year. No-Net-Loss programs require that states maintain the current level of available public hunting land. This assures hunters that the opportunities they have now will not diminish in the future. In addition, Open Fields programs (known by different names in various states) provide incentives to landowners to allow public access for hunters. ILA is working to expand this program to additional states, which would provide the opportunity to open millions of new acres to hunters.
In addition, the use of traditional lead ammunition is increasingly under attack by anti-hunting groups. Anti-hunters misinform policymakers and the public on the environmental and health effects of hunters’ spent lead ammunition. In fact, lead from hunters’ spent ammunition has not been scientifically proven to impact wildlife populations or present a health risk to humans. For instance, the bald eagle population, which is often cited by anti-hunting groups as being adversely impacted by spent lead ammunition, is at its highest level in more than half a century.
These issues are just the beginning. ILA remains vigilant in the fight to protect hunters—America’s true conservationists—from misguided attacks by groups whose goal is to ban hunting in all its forms.
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