The Virginia Senate approved a bill on Monday that would lift the long-standing ban on Sunday hunting, a victory that the bill’s supporters are saying is the closest the state has ever come to repealing the ban. Last month the Virginia House of Delegates voted 71-27 on a similar bill to overturn the ban, which has been in effect since 1930. According to CBS 6, Governor Terry McAuliffe has indicated that he will sign either bill if they come to his desk.
“Virginia has such a strong hunting heritage that we thought this would be a great opportunity to attempt to reverse that trend,” Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-Woodstock) told Capital News Service. “Where I live, the high-powered rifle season for deer is only two weeks long. So if you’re a hardworking person, you really only have two Saturdays in which to engage in that activity all year. This would simply give you a couple extra days to enjoy a sport you love and be able to put food on the table.”
Hunters in the state have been working for years to ban the law against Sunday hunting, which is itself a religious “blue” law left over from the late 1800s. Currently 10 other states have similar blue laws against hunting, but Virginia lawmakers have made the most progress in overturning theirs. Monday’s 29-10 vote in the senate revitalized supporters such as activist Matt O’Brien of Legalize Sunday Hunting for All.
“It is time for the last blue law in the state to go away,” O’Brien wrote on Facebook. “This is an excellent compromise bill that give private property owners the freedom to decide for their own property.”
The Senate bill, SB154, will now head to the House while the House bill will be considered by the Senate. O’Brien and other supporters of Sunday hunting anticipate no difficulties in the bills passing the General Assembly.
“The beauty of the bills is that they are identical,” O’Brien explained. “Both the House and the Senate would look utterly foolish if they didn’t pass the companion bill since they are the same.”
However, different groups oppose the bills for different reasons. Farmers and landowners say that the bill could lead to increased trespassing, hikers say they are uncomfortable with hunters being in the woods, and others cite religious reasons for keeping hunters at home on Sunday.