By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
June 26, 2015
RALEIGH – Wednesday, the North Carolina Senate took the final step to approve legislation that repeals a 145-year-old ban on Sunday hunting with firearms. The Senate passed HB 640 – Outdoor Heritage Act by a 33-15 vote.
Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League said in a statement released to the press that the Christian Action League opposed HB 640 from its inception, but he said the bill that passed was still something of a partial victory for the League’s efforts.
“Although the measure does allow Sunday hunting with a firearm,” he said, “it respects our churches, more specifically the rural churches it most likely affects, by prohibiting Sunday hunting from the hours of 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.” He added that, “[m]ost rural churches typically start at around 9:45 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. and are finished by 12:00 noon. The Christian Action League appreciates the sensitivity and respect shown by lawmakers in adding this provision. Moreover, without such a provision, I am concerned other Sunday laws already on the books that show deference to the churches could be jeopardized.”
When the House first approved the bill in April, there were no restrictions on the time hunters could shoot their prey on Sunday. The Senate, however, tweaked the bill, prohibiting all Sunday hunting until after 12:00 noon. That wasn’t acceptable to the House and a Conference Committee from both chambers crafted the compromise allowing hunting in the morning until 9:30 a.m. and prohibiting not to resume until after 12:30 p.m.
The House approved the compromise last Thursday overwhelmingly by a vote of 88-26.
Some lawmakers took umbrage with the law regardless of the compromise.
Rep. Michael Speciale, (R-Crave), complained that since the bill provided an exemption to the more densely populated counties of Wake and Mecklenburg, it was patently unfair that other counties had no such option for at least two years to opt-out.
Rep. Larry Pittman (R-Cabbarus), also a Presbyterian minister, said he rejected any hunting on Sunday and urged fellow House members to do the same.
Rep. Garland Pierce (D-Scotland), also a Baptist minister expressed concerns that there should be some cut out of time on Sunday afternoons as well to accommodate funerals.
During debate on the Senate floor Wednesday, Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell), said that he had originally voted for the Senate version that called for no Sunday hunting until after 12:00 noon, but he would be voting against concurrence with the Conference Committee’s compromise.
Hise said the compromise had “placed something into the law that is absolutely unenforceable.” He charged the three-hour hiatus precipitated difficult and unanswered questions. Are hunters, he asked, “required to be out of the woods by 9:30? Out of the tree stand? Do they have to put their gun down?” Since bow hunting on Sunday is already legal, Hise wanted to know if hunters were carrying a bow and a gun, could “they just switch which weapon they were using.”
The only people hunters are “hoping would go to church on Sunday morning,” said Hise, are “the game wardens.”
Sen. Andrew Brock rightly argued the three-hour window wouldn’t protect churches during Sunrise Services on Easter Sunday. “We should be most respectful during that time, and this bill tramples all over that,” he said.
Other provisions in HB 640 would prohibit the hunting of migratory birds on Sunday, using a firearm to take deer that are run or chased by dogs, and hunting within 500 yards of a place of worship or any accessory structure thereof, or within 500 yards of a residence not owned by the landowner.
The National Rifle Association disparaged the compromise measure that passed and vowed in future sessions of the North Carolina General Assembly to remove any time prohibitions on Sunday hunting.
Dr. Creech further noted in his statement: Read Dr. Creech entire statement by clicking here
“Sunday is for rest – rest not just for man but also animals. Man and nature run on a seven-day clock. One day is essential for rewinding. Sunday is for worship – a time to be still and listen for the voice God – a time to break away from our focus on the temporal and give ourselves to those things eternal – a time to concentrate on character building – a time to make certain we are adequately concerned for God’s business and not just our own.
“This legislation by no means outlaws the Lord’s Day or destroys it, but it does add an additional distraction by law that simply allows it to go by default. Human experience has shown us the importance of the Lord’s Day. We do not live by bread alone, neither are we the sum total of our amusements and indulgences. We live by a right relationship to God and in obedience to his commands.”