Time to retire hunting ‘blue law’

Published 2:21 pm Friday, February 3, 2012

Good for hunt clubs in the area that say they will voluntarily observe Sunday as a day of rest even if lawmakers repeal a state law prohibiting hunting on that day.

Voluntarily is the key word.

Virginia’s antiquated law preventing its citizens from enjoying an otherwise legal activity is unconstitutional, and the General Assembly would be wise to scrap it. The state Senate voted last week to repeal the law, and Gov. Bob McDonnell is prepared to sign the bill if it reaches his desk, relegating one of the last of the so-called “blue laws” to the history books. The bill must first pass the House of Delegates, where it faces a less certain fate.

The Sunday hunting ban is a curious effort to legislate values in a society that lets its citizens shop, golf, fish, hike, cycle or pursue any other leisure activity on Sunday. Among hobbyists, hunters rightfully are asking, “Why us?” Because lawmakers have no good answer, many are lining up to repeal the law.

The truth is that values cannot be legislated. Christianity is a personal commitment — a series of voluntary choices to follow God ‘s commandments, including observing Sunday as a day of rest and worship. The state, for all of its powers, cannot dictate or mandate that commitment.

When the law is eventually repealed, hunt clubs and individual hunters will still have the choice of taking Sunday off. Many will choose to do so. That’s the way it should be.