A Virginia Senate bill to allow hunting on Sundays not only failed on Monday, it failed spectacularly.
Senate Bill 850, which would have overturned Virginia’s longstanding ban on Sunday hunting, was defeated by a 13-2 vote today in the Senate’s Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources committee. That means Virginia remains one of 11 states with a full or partial restriction on Sunday hunting.
Sunday hunting proponents might have felt a little hope this year as, for a change, big lobbying players such as the NRA and National Shooting Sports Foundation were actively campaigning for the bill.
But the dismal showing by the proposal seems to indicate that the lobbying efforts didn’t do much, if any, good.
Was that because the Sunday hunting ban is so ingrained there is no hope for a change? Or because the lobbying efforts came so late in the game?
I suspect there’s a little of both at work here. I think there are certain politicians who won’t ever change their opinions on Sunday hunting. I also think there are probably some who could be persuaded to reconsider their support of the ban, but it’s going to take more than just e-mail blasts in the week before a vote.
For pro-Sunday hunting lobbying efforts to have any chance of working, they need to focus on facts and statistics, such as those that address what I suspect politicians consider the most compelling argument against change: safety concerns of non-hunters.
As we have seen from some comments on this blog, there is concern among some non-hunting outdoors enthusiasts that they are risking their lives any time they go outdoors during a hunting season. There is ample evidence to the contrary. After all, if hunting and other outdoors recreation weren’t compatible, there wouldn’t be Sunday hunting in whole or partial form in 43 states. But until pro-Sunday hunting advocates can clearly show Virginia politicians that hunters and non-hunters can safely co-exist, few senators and delegates are going to go out on a limb on this issue.
I wonder if this small bit of momentum will continue and this effort will continue with an eye toward next year’s General Assembly. Or, in the wake of this resounding defeat, will lobbying groups such as the NRA and NSSF write off Virginia as a no hope state and put their resources elsewhere?