Next Tuesday, voters in Kentucky will have the chance to vote in favor of an amendment to our state constitution that protects the rights of all citizens to hunt and fish. I’d like to discuss the reasons why this is a very good idea.
I’ve heard it said that this proposal is such a waste of time considering all the more important things our Commonwealth faces. But of course, if you ask those people who say such things to list that which is “most” important to them, they won’t all agree.
Some will put pension reform at the top of the list. Others will argue that job creation has to be our first priority. There are, of course, those who have kept casino gambling uppermost in their minds for several years now, while others want to support prayer in school. In other words, not everybody agrees on all things.
So let me talk with you for a minute about why the quick dismissal of the amendment to protect our rights to hunt and fish as “frivolous” is very much ill informed.
I’d like to go back to the year 1789. We had just won the Revolutionary War and were in the process of piecing together a nation. Various state delegations wanted protections for some things which were opposed by others. The discussions over how our framework was to be constructed were quite contentious. In fact, our nation as we know it was not a certainty. The debates were very public as evidenced by “The Federalist Papers.”
But there were a few things upon which there was little disagreement. It was without much dispute that what these men were about to do was give formal recognition to the fact – to them an indisputable fact – that the rights of men did not derive from the edict of kings, but came to us freely from the grace of God.
The right to speak freely, to publish freely, to practice varying faiths without interference, to arm themselves, and to be free from unwarranted government searches and seizures were all things they had fought for and won. They never doubted these things nor considered that they were giving rights to men. They considered it their duty to protect the rights God had given to men.
So after the Constitution was passed they then set about passing the Bill of Rights. You might wonder why, if these rights were assumed to belong to all men, they saw the need to give them constitutional protection.
You see, these men were well educated. They had studied history. They had lived under tyranny. They knew that it was the nature of man to seek to control the lives of others and in so doing to tinker with, or to destroy God-given rights. They worried about a future where these values would be targeted for extermination. They were visionaries and rightfully due the reverence they receive as our founding fathers.
Today, we in Kentucky probably take for granted the right to hunt and fish, much like they took for granted the right to speak freely and to bear arms. But we should not be so quick as to assume that this will always be the case. We need to prepare for the future.
You see, hunting and fishing are God-given rights. He gave us dominion over all the creatures of the earth. He put them here for our sustenance. Despite the fact that we get our food from chain stores now, everything we need to survive, He provided for us.
Protecting hunting and fishing is protecting God given rights. And though they might not today be under any specific attack in Kentucky, look to the future.
There are those who seek to control the way in which we use our own land, through zoning laws and eminent domain, there are those who seek to control our food supply obtaining patents on seeds and suing to prevent the sale of raw milk, farm produced products and even how much of a crop one can grow.
There are those who really do want to disarm us, to deny us our God given right to self-defense and yet time after time they keep running into the argument that guns are used for hunting. Removal of that obstacle one day could make the path to their ultimate goals that much smoother.
I applaud those who proposed and voted for this legislation and plan to find and vote for the amendment next Tuesday.
It isn’t just about hunting and fishing today. What is at stake is whether or not we will have the vision to protect these God given rights for future generations. That is what is at stake.
Marcus Carey is a Northern Kentucky lawyer with 32 years experience. He is also a farmer, talk radio host and public speaker who loves history and politics. He is a prolific and accomplished writer whose blog, BluegrassBulletin.com, is “dedicated to honest and respectful comment on the political and cultural issues of our time.” He writes a regular commentary for KyForward.