The House started down a slippery slope last week when it lifted a partial ban on Sunday hunting in the state, a ban that has served Massachusetts well for three centuries. We strongly urge the state Senate to maintain the ban, and should a measure lifting it in any way reach the desk of Governor Patrick we urge him to veto it.
The legislation would allow bow and arrow hunting on Sundays during deer season, which are the last three months of the year. One argument is that this would reduce the deer population, which is not out of control in Massachusetts. The Sunday Hunting Coalition, a national group, claims that Sunday hunting will add 500 new jobs and $50 million in economic activity, figures that invite doubt given the relatively small number of bow and arrow hunters who would be in the woods for another 12 days a year.
Passage of this partial lifting would put a crack in the ban that advocates would exploit to crumble it entirely. Included in the Sunday Hunting Coalition, according to the State House News Service, are the U.S. Sportsman’s Alliance and the National Rifle Association, the latter an organization that opposes all forms of gun regulations. If lifted, the provision in the Sunday ban would only be the beginning.
The state’s fields and forests belong to everyone, not just hunters. The Sunday ban means that there is one weekend day in which hikers can go into the woods without having to worry about coming out on a stretcher after being mistaken for a deer. Children and the family dog should be able to enjoy the woods on a Sunday without risking a similar fate.
Weakening the Sunday ban to appease special interest groups and to allow Bass Pro Shops -- which is also a member of the coalition -- to make a few extra bucks is indefensible. There is no good case for tinkering with a ban that has been place since the colonial era, and legislators should preserve it as is.