Eleven states currently have laws against hunting on Sundays, most of which are remainders of religious “blue laws” set up from as far back as the 1800s. These states, which make up a large portion of the nation’s East Coast, include Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. According to USA Today, that list could be cut a bit shorter due to efforts in four states to end these laws.
North Carolina legislators are challenging its hundred-year-old Sunday hunting ban, and with the help of supporters such as the Coalition to Lift State Bans on Sunday Hunting (Sunday Hunting Coalition), the situation is looking hopeful. Massachusetts, Connecticut, and West Virginia are also leading the charge to overturn laws that many hunters view as outdated. Lawmakers say that changing these laws will also help out many outdoorsmen who are not able to hunt during the work week. It is a matter of business, not customs.
“Many of them work during the week and would like to hunt on the weekends,” said West Virginia State Senator Clark S. Barnes (R–Randolph). He recently introduced a bill calling for a referendum on his state’s law, citing the impracticality of a law the prohibits hunting on Sundays when it is one of the only times that many hunters can get out in the woods.
The economic impact of Sunday restrictions can be sizable. An estimate by the Sunday Hunting Coalition reports that with the removal of these bans, the affected states could see over 27,000 new jobs being created, contributing $2.2 billion in revenue back to local economies.
Supporters of Sunday hunting also argue that these laws conflict with personal property rights.
“We are in a situation where a lot of people are being told what to do on their private land and I think that is where the issue comes in,” said Jake McGuigan with the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
The “blue laws” are not without their supporters however. Many want the Sunday restrictions to stay in place because of religious beliefs or because they view hunting on Sunday as a nuisance.