Hunting in Ky. on ‘right’ path
Posted: Friday, February 11, 2011 10:05 am
By: By ROGER ALFORD, Associated Press
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Hunting would be a constitutionally protected right in Kentucky under a measure that received initial approval on Tuesday.
The House Committee on Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergov-ernmental Affairs voted without debate to send the measure to the full House for consideration.
“Sportsmen need to have their hunting rights protected,” said Bill Haycraft, president of the League of Kentucky Sportsmen. “There are individuals and groups who are against the sportsmen. They don’t want us to hunt.
“They don’t want us to own guns. They oppose everything.”
Thus, Kentucky is just the latest in a long line of states that have passed or are considering right-to-hunt measures to head off feared hunting bans.
The National Rifle Association is leading a nationwide push for such state-level constitutional amendments in a pre-emptive move just in case animal rights groups in the future are able to convince a majority of Americans that hunting is bad.
Animals rights groups have pressed for restrictions on hunting in several states, including Kentucky where they tried to stop bear season from opening two years ago and in Minnesota last year where they pushed to ban dove hunting.
The right-to-hunt measures would ensure that hunting could never be outlawed without a statewide vote of Kentucky’s people.
“We look at it as a safeguard for future generations,” said NRA spokeswoman Heidi Keesling.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo said he’s confident the Kentucky General Assembly will approve the measure.
In Kentucky, the legislature can vote only to put a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot. It’s up to voters to approve or reject the amendment.
The initiative is one that could get hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts to the polls. But it would likely not be an effective wedge issue between conservatives and liberals because, Stumbo said, it has broad bipartisan support.
Kessling said hunters already have such constitutional protections in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Karen Waldrop, director of the Kentucky Division of Wildlife, said Kentucky would be a natural addition to that list of states.
“Hunting is a heritage in Kentucky,” she said. “This would protect that heritage for future generations.”
The legislation is House Bill 1.