The top of the ticket isn’t the only important choice gun owners face next Tuesday. Many voters will have the opportunity to thwart state-level leftists who have busied themselves battering the right to keep and bear arms. Gun owners will have a chance at the voting booth to defend themselves from the assault.
Kentucky, Idaho, Nebraska and Wyoming are asking residents to ratify amendments to their state constitutions to protect hunting rights. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is urging its membership to support pro-gun ballot initiatives.
“Millions of Americans hunt. In fact, according to government figures, some 13.7 million Americans took to the field last year,” NRA President David A. Keene told The Washington Times in an interview Tuesday. “We work to make sure they have access to lands on which to hunt, ranges where they can sight in the firearms and to make certain the laws and regulations affecting their sports are fair and don’t present a bar to new entrants into the sport.” For the first time in decades, the number of Americans who hunt is on the rise, up 9 percent in the past five years.
In Kentucky, residents will vote to make clear their right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife, which could be restricted only for the purpose of wildlife conservation and management. If Bluegrass State voters say “yes” to the measure, it will specify that hunting and fishing are the preferred methods of managing wildlife. It also will ensure that wildlife management decisions are based on facts rather than the feelings of so-called animal rights groups.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF)is also fighting for the ballot measures. “We strongly support state constitutional right to hunt, fish and trap amendments,” said NSSF general counsel Lawrence G. Keane. “They promote, protect and preserve America’s hunting heritage and blunt efforts by anti-hunting organizations to destroy that uniquely American heritage.”
This year, Alabama will vote on reauthorizing a constitutional amendment that uses interest from natural gas royalties to secure public lands for hunters for 20 more years. In all, 14 states already guarantee those rights, with most of the protections enacted in response to the specific threat of losing public lands to the whims of self-styled environmentalists. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, an additional seven states considered but failed to pass bills to amend their constitutions for hunters and fishermen in 2012.
Also on the ballot Nov. 6 is a bill the NRA says “would provide the strongest protection of the right to keep and bear arms of any jurisdiction in the United States.” Louisiana voters have a chance to fix a weakness in the Bayou State Constitution that its Supreme Court interprets as allowing the imposition of any restriction on guns that the state legislature deems to be “reasonable.”
The Right to Keep and Bear Arms Amendment would clarify that the Second Amendment right is fundamental and any restrictions to it are subject to strict scrutiny by the courts, which provides the strongest possible legal protection for the right. The proposal also would delete the line in the state constitution that allows for laws that ban carrying guns, even in a citizen’s own home.
Americans who want the right to keep and bear arms to remain sacrosanct need to have their voices heard at all levels of government on Nov. 6.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.