Hunting is deeply ingrained in the culture of West Virginia. It’s a tradition passed down from generation to generation across Appalachia. Indeed, the WV Constitution has a provision that guarantees people’s right to keep and bear arms for “lawful hunting and recreational use.”
Despite this, for years, WV law prohibited people from hunting on Sunday after 5:00am. The law changed, and starting in 2001, counties could hold ballot initiatives to determine whether people should be allowed to hunt on private land on Sundays. As a result, in some WV counties people are free to hunt on private land on Sunday and in some counties people are prohibited from hunting on Sunday.
But given the state’s robust sporting culture, why in the world would hunting be banned on Sundays? The genesis of the prohibition on Sunday hunting is religious. Some religions believe that people should not work or engage in certain other activities on the Sabbath. And since Sunday is the Christian Sabbath, some Christians, believe it is a sin to hunt on Sundays.
We believe that the religious origin and intent of WV’s Sunday hunting prohibition constitutes an improper establishment of religion under the First Amendment. So-called “blue laws,” which establish Sunday as a mandatory day of rest, unnecessarily restrict the right of individuals to choose their own form and time of rest and worship.
We oppose all blue laws on First Amendment grounds. We’ve been working to get WV’s Sunday hunting law repealed for years and we’re almost there. A bill introduced into the state legislature, SB 345, would eliminate the prohibition on Sunday hunting on private land. SB 345 has already passed the Senate. The House is expected to vote on it tomorrow. We encourage you to call your Delegates and urge them to vote in favor of SB 345 and end the religious-based prohibition on Sunday hunting.
Bottom line: If you think it is a sin to hunt on Sunday, don’t hunt on Sunday. If you want to hunt on Sunday, you should be allowed to do so.