In a major victory for hunters in the southeast, Virginia lawmakers passed a bill that would end a century-old ban on Sunday hunting, a move that proponents of the change say would bring millions in new revenue to the state.
Virginia was one of six states that banned hunting on Sundays — including Pennsylvania; Massachusetts; Maine; Connecticut and Delaware — due in large part to 1800s-era "Blue Laws" that were intended to keep people focused on church rather than recreation. Five other states — including Maryland; New Jersey; West Virginia; South Carolina and North Carolina — restrict Sunday hunting to specific days or places.
The new Virginia law authorizes hunting on private land on Sundays with written permission, and on some public lands in the state.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation and other hunting advocacy groups pushed hard to overturn the ban, arguing the Commonwealth would gain 4,000 new jobs and $120 million in direct new revenue per year if Sunday hunting were allowed.
Lifting bans or restrictions on Sunday hunting in all states would create 27,000 new jobs and over $2 billion in added revenue, the NSSF estimates.
"We congratulate the legislators and we thank our partners from all the hunting and sportsmen's organizations and those in the wildlife management organizations that worked to encourage citizens to contact their delegates and senators in support of this legislation," said NSSF president Larry Keane.
The new bill goes to Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe who is expected to sign it into law.