Raleigh, N.C. — A proposal to allow hunting with guns for most of the day on Sundays is headed to Gov. Pat McCrory after winning final approval from the Senate on Wednesday.
Current state law allows bow-hunting on Sundays. Firing guns is also allowed, but state law bans "taking of game with a firearm" in deference to church services on that day.
House Bill 640 would allow hunting with guns on Sunday except between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., a compromise supporters say still protects the hours during which most church services take place.
Sens. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, and Andrew Brock, R-Davie, spoke against the change, echoing arguments made by religious groups that have lobbied against the change.
'It’s placed something into the laws that’s absolutely unenforceable," Hise said of the three-hour pause. "Are they required to be out of the woods at 9:30? Out of their tree stand? Do they have to put the gun down? If they’re carrying a bow and a gun, can they just switch which weapon they’re using?
"The only ones they're hoping to go to church on Sunday are the game wardens," he concluded.
But Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, said game wardens are already accustomed to enforcing hunting laws based on time of day.
"There are days and hunting times that start at 12 o'clock already. That’s well known," Rabon replied.
Brock said the three-hour window won't protect sunrise services on Easter Sunday.
"We should be most respectful during that time, and this bill tramples all over that," he argued.
Sen. Dan Blue, D-Wake, pointed out that hunting is legally allowed on Christmas Day.
"For me, Easter is more important because it’s about the salvation," Brock responded.
The Senate approved the proposal 33-15, with four Democrats and 11 Republicans voting no.