@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

Revised bill would make hunters with firearms wait until after noon on Sundays

Posted May 27, 2015 11:31 a.m. EDT
Updated May 27, 2015 11:57 a.m. EDT

A bill that would expand the methods of hunting allowed on Sunday to include those who use rifles and shotguns cleared the Senate Agriculture and Environment Committee on Wednesday.

— A bill that would expand the methods of hunting allowed on Sunday to include those who use rifles and shotguns cleared the Senate Agriculture and Environment Committee on Wednesday.

The measure, which has already cleared the House, contains a number of provisions that its sponsors say will encourage youngsters to participate in camping, hiking, fishing and other outdoor activities.

"A little bit of dirt under their fingernails, a little bit of dirt from the outdoors on the soles of their shoes, might combat some of the dirt they're putting into their minds with a click of a mouse," said Rep. Jimmy Dixon, R-Duplin.

While Dixon and co-sponsor Rep. Marvin Lucas, D-Cumberland, extolled the virtues of the broader bill, it was the provisions dealing with hunting on Sunday that garnered the most attention.

It is already legal to hunt with bows and arrows on Sunday, but this bill would allow for those using rifles to hunt on private property with the permission of the property's owner. In addition to having to wait until after noon, those hunting on Sundays would have to stay 500 yards from a place of worship, a restriction not in place any other day of the week.

Backers of the bill said they want to be able to take their children with them on weekend hunting trips. Cameron Boltes, of Beaufort County, has three children, ages 7, 5 and 3, who are not yet old enough to manage a bow.

"I want to take my kids with me," he said. "To me, time spent with my kids in the outdoors is the crown jewel of time spent with my kids."

Boltes said he was also in the property management business and had frequent problems with trespassers, who figure it's cheaper to pay a $25 fine than lease land. The "Outdoor Heritage" bill would revoke an individual's hunting license if he or she is caught breaking trespassing and other hunting laws three times.

The bill also has backing from the National Rifle Association.

Opponents of the measure said it would detract from the observance of the Christian Sabbath.

"The Dutch used to call this day the dike of God, the bulwark against the insidious inroads of secularism, materialism and even paganism. We believe this is the wrong road," said the Rev. Mark Creech, director of the Christian Action League.

Several eastern counties have passed resolutions opposing the bill, and some senators struggled with the idea of clearing the way for an expansion of Sunday hunting.

"When you and I grew up," Sen. Tommy Tucker, R-Union, told Dixon, "you didn't even mow grass on Sunday."

Lucas pointed out that there are already a number of sporting activities – from NASCAR to football to boating and fishing – that are allowed on Sundays.

The measure passed the committee on a voice vote and is now headed to the Senate floor.