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Arkansas: Right to Hunt and Fish Constitutional Amendment Placed on 2010 General Election Ballot!

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Arkansas General Assembly recessed on Thursday, April 9 (formal adjournment is May 1) but not before passing one of our top legislative goals for the session— Senate Joint Resolution 3.  This legislation will allow the voters of Arkansas to decide if the Arkansas State Constitution should be amended to recognize that the citizens have a right to hunt, fish and trap.  SJR 3 is critically important to the long term preservation of the great hunting and fishing heritage of the Natural State.  If approved by the voters during the 2010 general election, it will ensure that the state’s hunting traditions will live on for future generations to enjoy. 

Hunting and trapping (as well as fishing) have been targeted for extinction by the well-funded animal “rights” extremists at HSUS and PETA, but NRA is laying the groundwork of our defense against future attacks through constitutional amendments such as SJR 3.  While many may believe hunting is already protected from emotional, politically-motivated attacks, in most states, it is not.

Senate Joint Resolution 3 is the culmination of six years of intense lobbying and negotiations by NRA.  We worked closely with the bill’s sponsor, State Senator Steve Faris (D-27), and the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission (AGFC) to ensure the concerns of all those interested in preserving hunting and fishing were addressed.  As a result, SJR 3 was fully supported by AGFC, and the language of the amendment, if approved by the voters, will arguably be the strongest right to hunt language in the country.

NRA members and sportsmen of Arkansas can thank Senator Faris for his tireless efforts.  This was the third consecutive session Senator Faris introduced a right to hunt & fish amendment, and his persistence paid dividends.  Last Thursday, the Senate passed SJR 3 on a 29 to 0 vote.  This week, the House followed suit with a vote of 70 to 9.  State Representative Jon Woods (R-93) also deserves our thanks for generating support for SJR3 in the House.

The next step in this effort to protect hunting and fishing will be Election Day 2010 (November 2), when the voters of Arkansas will cast their ballot to ensure hunting and fishing are protected for future generations.

If you would like to thank Senator Faris, please call him at 501-337-7307.  If you would like to thank Representative Woods, you can reach him at 501-834-4028 or email him at woodj@arkleg.state.ar.us.

As for other pro-gun legislation considered this session, House Bill 1623, introduced by State Representative Randy Stewart (D-23), was passed by the House on Wednesday, April 8, and sent to Governor Mike Beebe (D) for his consideration.  This bill, as introduced, would have prohibited any personal information regarding Right-to-Carry permit holders from being released.  Unfortunately, the Senate Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs gutted the legislation, allowing for the release of the names and zip codes of permittees.  This is a slight improvement over the existing law, which allows any and all personal information related to a Right to Parry permit (e.g., name, address, telephone number, etc.) to be released and published, but NRA will be back next session to eliminate access to all personal information.

Unfortunately, House Bill 1237, which would remove the restriction on Right-to-Carry permit holders carrying their lawfully concealed firearm into a church, failed to make it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  NRA will work to pass this critical reform next session, as well.  Our thanks go out to State Representative Beverly Pyle (R-83) for introducing this bill.

Finally, Senate Bill 768, introduced by State Senator Jerry Taylor (D-23), was withdrawn from consideration by its sponsor.  This bill sought to remove the ability of local units of government to restrict our Right to Keep and Bear Arms during a declared state of emergency, such as occurred following Hurricane Katrina. Current law prohibits such restrictions for firearms kept in the home, but this bill would have extended the prohibition to include the lawful transfer, transportation and carrying of firearms.  This is another bill NRA will work to pass next session.

No anti-gun or anti-hunting bills passed this session.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.