Tennessee voters will decide in November’s elections whether to make hunting and fishing a state constitutional right.
The state House joined the Senate Thursday in voting to place the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot. Only one legislator — Rep. Johnnie Turner, D-Memphis — voted against it.
Rep. Tommie Brown, D-Chattanooga, abstained after arguing that supporters of the amendment are grandstanding for the votes of conservatives.
“You know I’m totally confused,” she said. “Do we not have the right to hunt and fish and carry guns right now? This is a knee-jerk response. … Eventually we’re not going to be able to read the constitution because it’s going to be so long.”
The sponsor — Rep. Joe McCord, R-Maryville — said Tennessee should guarantee the right to hunt and fish "subject to reasonable regulations” just in case politicians should try to curtail the sporting life in the future.
“I’m asked why do we need this? The answer is to guarantee the right that we currently have and assume to have in the future. Secondly I’m asked do we have a problem in Tennessee right now? The answer is no, right now we don’t have a problem. But that’s why the time is right to address this issue. Don’t wait until you’re embroiled in a problem to address it. They didn’t think they had a problem in Great Britain and other European countries until it was politically popular to ban certain types of hunting, and then it was too late.”
McCord said 12 other states have similar constitutional provisions and at least eight others are considering them.