Most Americans support the right, and honor the tradition, of hunting and fishing. But while it is nearly inconceivable that institutions so closely tied to our history and identity could go away overnight, it is undeniable that there are powerful forces in motion that will stop at nothing less. PETA, HSUS and other extreme animal-rights groups aim to stamp out hunting entirely. They frankly don’t care about the catastrophe that would ensue, with ecological imbalance and a lack of hunting-derived conservation funds driving species after species into extinction. Their mission is unchanging and invulnerable to practical concerns, and they realize that their only chance for winning lies is playing a long game. A pastime that pumps billions of dollars into the state’s economy every year is currently quite secure—but the Lone Star State can’t afford to take the chance that the opposition will chip away at it until it is a pale shadow of what it is now.
That’s why Texas legislators are looking to the future by working to enshrine the right to hunt and fish in the state’s constitution. A pastime that pumps billions of dollars into the state’s economy every year is currently quite secure—but the Lone Star State can’t afford to take the chance that the opposition will chip away at it until it is a pale shadow of what it is now. When states lose the right to regulate their own wildlife populations, they typically don’t get them back.
The amendment being proposed to the Texas constitution is short and clear. Its text reads as follows:
The people have the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife, including by the use of traditional methods, subject to laws or regulations to conserve and manage wildlife and preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Hunting and fishing are preferred methods of managing and controlling wildlife. This section does not affect any provision of law relating to trespass, property rights, or eminent domain. This section does not affect the power of the legislature to authorize a municipality to regulate the discharge of a weapon in a populated area in the interest of public safety.
This language was approved with overwhelming bipartisan support by both houses of the Texas legislature, and in November voters will encounter it on the ballot under the name of Proposition 6.
PETA issued a nonsensical statement claiming that, regardless of legislation, people will eventually abandon the “bloody pastime” of hunting and opt for watching wildlife instead. The organization also said that an amendment would “clutter up the most important charter of government …” The latter argument was echoed by Democrat Rep. Roland Gutierrez, who complained that “our constitution isn’t a toy … if we are asking to put things in our constitution that say this constitutional right to fish and hunt, how about our constitutional right to watch Sunday night football or our constitutional right to love the San Antonio Spurs?”
The bottom line is that the other “rights” that Rep. Gutierrez enumerates are not under attack—hunting and fishing are. Beneath PETA’s statement lies an undercurrent of fear: This amendment would protect Texas from their depredations for generations to come. It might even continue to expand a nationwide movement that would definitively prevent the dawning of the group’s Brave New World.
For Texans, and for Americans in general, hunting and fishing form an essential part of our cultural fabric. They are sporting pursuits, but they are also a means of sustenance and a vehicle for the passing down of traditions across generations. The right to hunt and fish is one that we implicitly recognize; putting it in the state constitution is the best strategy Texans have for ensuring that their children and grandchildren will have it as well.
USE YOUR POWER!
Texas residents will have the opportunity to vote for Proposition 6 on Tuesday, November 3. Early voting will take place from October 19-30. To pledge your support, text HuntTX to 52886 or fill out the form foundhere.