A bill that would allow North Carolinians to hunt with firearms on Sundays on private property did not pass out of committee in either chamber of the state legislature and needs some special kind of resuscitation to have any life remaining.

Rep. Tim Moffitt (R-Buncombe) introduced the house version of the bill, H360, and Sen Buck Newton (R-Johnston/Nash/Wilson) introduced the senate version, S224, but both became trapped in committee: the Senate Committee on Agricultural/Environmental/Natural Resources and the House Committee on Agriculture.

 

The bill did not meet a "crossover" deadline of May 16, when bills must pass one chamber or the other to move to the other chamber for discussion or reconcile differences between House and Senate bills.

 

Unless some other legislative procedures are used to keep the bill alive, it will not be able to move to the floor of either house to be voted upon during the 2013-14 session or the 2014-15 session. The 2014-15 legislature will deal only with matters pertaining to budget issues, which is the situation that occurs every other year.

 

"There are a variety of procedural ways to keep it alive," Newton said. "Certainly, people have got to turn up the volume on the reasons why they want it. The only ones that people in the legislature heard from were the people who don't want it.

 

"There are still efforts to keep it alive in the House, and the intent is to get it over to us in the Senate. I hope when it arrives, there will be more effort to educate the senators on the issue and why it is good policy."

 

The bill had the support of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, but it was opposed by church groups, some waterfowl hunters and hound hunters, who felt it could lead to restrictions on their form of deer hunting. Archery hunting is currently legal on private lands in North Carolina.

 

Newton said a lot of the opposition to the bill was based on old assumptions that did not have anything to do with the bill. He said recent strengthening of trespass laws should have helped the bill's passage.

 

"Agriculture organizations had a misunderstanding on our current laws as they relate to hunting and trespassing on private lands," he said. "They need to understand why this isn't going to present problems for them. Other groups need their arguments to be methodically answered so they know these aren't the types of things anyone needs to be concerned about.

 

"I introduced the bill because it's the only way some people can hunt, because they are working the other six days," Newton said. "The more we talk about it in the legislature, the more understanding they have. What is most instructive about it is that there are not as many legislators who understand hunting as there have been in the past. They don't want to spend a whole lot of time with the controversy, so they have to know it's something a lot of people badly want."