COMMENTARY: Hunting And Fishing Are Essential To Liberty


Don’t neglect to vote for the right to hunt and fish on Nov. 2nd; a Constitutional Amendment on our ballot.

Most of us consider the right to hunt and fish a natural right.  Indeed, the right to feed yourself is inalienable – like self defense, free speech or self determination. But it hasn’t always been that way.

Considered a natural right by ancient Rome but over time such thought deteriorated.  For over 500 years many Europeans were punished by their kings for hunting and fishing, even on their own land, because all game was deemed the property of the king.

It was discussed as a right when the Magna Carta was signed.  The Enlightenment brought renewed understanding of rights and by the time of our founding the right to hunt and fish was so accepted that it was considered unnecessary to enumerate in the federal constitution.  However, soon the Pennsylvania delegation insisted that “the right to hunt, fish and fowl” be considered for inclusion in Bill of Rights by the Constitutional Convention in 1787.   States like Pennsylvania and Vermont added the right to hunt and fish to theirs in the 18th century. Rhode Island followed in 1807, and California in 1910.

Today, 14 states have similar constitutional protections for hunting and fishing, and four (Arkansas, Arizona, South Carolina and Tennessee) have it on the ballot this fall.  Indeed, there is clear evidence that political support for banning hunting and fishing exists.

For instance, in a 2007 speech regulatory czar Cass Sunstein said that “We ought to ban hunting… it ought to be against the law. It’s just time now.”

And last month, PETA publicly demanded that Tennessee universities disband their collegiate fishing teams. Michigan, New Jersey and California are among the states that have lost hunting seasons for purely political reasons in the last decade.

As a state representative, I know that the will of the legislature is only limited by the state constitution. If hunting and fishing are things we want to protect – and my constituents and I agree that they are – then I urge you to vote YES on Amendment #1 in this election.

The amendment is supported major national conservation groups, the NRA, the Farm Bureau and at least 100 other organizations. The language was carefully crafted to ensure that issues like licensure, seasons and bag limits, and personal property rights were covered. Most importantly, this will offer a level of legal protection that we don’t have today.

For more information, visit We may never have another opportunity to secure this fundamental element of our liberty – the right to hunt and fish as Tennesseans – in our state constitution.

Susan Lynn represents the 57th district, including parts of Sumner and Wilson counties, in the Tennessee House of Representatives. Rep. Lynn is also honorary chair of the Tennessee Conservatives Fund - a TEA Party affiliated PAC.