Lifting Anti-Hunting Blue Laws

Alerts from NRA and NSSF this week announced a public meeting of the Pennsylvania House Game and Fisheries Committee tomorrow to tackle the topic of ending the the blue law that bans Sunday hunting dating back to the 1870s.

The Sunday Hunting Coalition – a group of 14 organizations that believe the prohibitions on Sunday hunting that remains in only a handful of states should be overturned – points out that Pennsylvania would see a significant economic boost from expanding the number of days hunters are allowed to take to the fields and woods.

The estimated impacts from a lift on the ban on Sunday hunting are based on responses to surveys of hunters in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. In these two states, government agencies conducted extensive surveys of hunters in which they were asked to report the number of additional days they would participate in hunting if the Sunday hunting ban were to be lifted. Based on these responses, it is estimated that hunters will participate in, on average, about 22 percent of the additional days made available to them from the lifting of the ban. In other words, if the lifting of restrictions increased the number of hunting days by 10, the average hunter would increase their hunting days by about two.

Specifically, Pennsylvania would likely see a direct economic impactDirect impacts include jobs, output, and wages created from primary hunter expenditures ranging from licenses, ammunition, and hunting supplies to food, fuel, and magazines. that could create more than 4,400 jobs with wages topping $99 million. Of all the states with Sunday hunting bans or heavy restrictions, Pennsylvania stands to gain the most jobs and economic impact of a repeal of the prohibition. Neighboring states with similar bans such as New Jersey and Delaware would also see an economic benefit, but to the tune of only 560 and 225 jobs, respectively. Should Pennsylvania repeal the ban first, it is possible that the Keystone State could absorb more of those benefits as more out-of-state hunters are attracted to our state.

Blue laws, by definition, are extremely rigorous laws designed to regulate morals and conduct – often found in New England. They were enacted in order to restrict activity during the time that religious leaders believed citizens should be participating in religious activity. Many of these laws were repealed out of sheer common sense that we no long live in a world where influential leaders should be able to use government authority to promote their religious beliefs.

According to the Sunday Hunting Coalition, these laws started to fall in the late 19th century as they were challenged by business groups whose members were harmed by the forced closure. Their research shows that Pennsylvania is seriously behind on this trend of repealing these harmful laws since by 1970, only 25 states still had blue laws. By 1984, the number had fallen to only 13 states.

For many hunters, weekends are their only opportunities to get outdoors. Our Sunday hunting ban effectively cuts available hunting time in half for our sportsmen who already struggle to find the time and space to enjoy the hunt. For many, it also intrudes on their opportunities to invite friends or children along in order to share our outdoor heritage and pass it on to future generations.

Citizens who wish to attend the House committee meeting may do so on Thursday, June 9. The hearing will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort, 777 Waterwheel Drive in Seven Springs.

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