Sen. E.S. "Buck" Newton, a Republican who represents Johnston, Nash and Wilson Counties, has filed a bill in the state senate that would allow gun hunting on Sundays on private property and possibly on public lands.
Newton sponsored a similar bill in 2013 that would have allowed Sunday hunting on private lands with landowner permission, but it never got out of a senate committee.
The bill, S 658, was co-sponsored by Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Bladen/Brunswick/New Hanover/Pender) and Sen. Michael V. Lee (R-New Hanover). The proposed legislation allows gun hunting seven days a week with only three prohibitions: no Sunday waterfowl hunting, no hunting with dogs on Sundays and no Sunday hunting before 1 p.m. within 250 yards of any place of worship. State law currently prohibits hunting within 2,500 feet of churches, synagogues or other places of worship.
Past attempts to change the ban on firearms use for Sunday hunting haven’t met with much success. About 10 years ago, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission funded an independent survey whose results were published in November 2006. It revealed that 65 percent of North Carolina citizens opposed Sunday hunting, while 81 percent approved of hunting as a recreational activity. The study also showed 53 percent of hunters opposed Sunday hunting.
Proponents included those who said work and school prevented them from hunting except during weekends. Monetary considerations also were cited.
Sunday hunting with guns, while managed by the Commission, is prohibited by state law. In recent years, the Commission has allowed some Sunday hunting with archery equipment on private lands, and it adopted a resolution in favor of Newton’s 2013 bill.
Opponents of Sunday hunting pointed out by adding extra days to hunting seasons, more pressure would be placed on hunted species, leading to less conservation. Hunters who use dogs are likely to object to Newton’s bill because it allows still-hunters to hunt on Sunday but prohibits them from hunting deer, bear, rabbits, raccoons, squirrels and upland game birds with dogs.
Newton’s bill reads “Hunting on Sunday and the manner of taking game on Sunday may be prohibited at certain times and in certain locations by rule of the Wildlife Resources Commission.” That would allow the Commission to decide whether or not to allow or prohibit gun hunting on Sundays in certain or all circumstances.