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Texas Makes Hunting and Fishing a Constitutional Right

Voters made Texas the 19th state to add legal protections for hunting and fishing, which are now also the preferred methods for controlling wildlife.

Fishing
Wikimedia Commons/ JJ Harrison
This is part of our 2015 elections coverage. Get more results here.

Texas voters have decided to codify the right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife in the state's constitution. The amendment passed by voters also designates hunting and fishing as the preferred methods for controlling and managing wildlife.

With 91 percent of precincts having reported unofficial results, the amendment received an overwhelming 82 percent approval from voters.

The ballot measure pit the National Rifle Association (NRA) against People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Aside from animal rights groups who object to hunting as a "bloody pastime," some critics questioned the need to affirm the right to hunt and fish in the state constitution. Texas state Rep. Roland Gutierrez complained that "our constitution isn't a toy" and an unnecessary amendment "demeans the document."

Supporters of the measure, including the NRA, acknowledged that no one had tried to curb the right to hunt and fish in Texas. Instead, they justified the amendment as a safeguard against future threats by anti-hunting groups.

As of March, 18 states included the right to hunt and fish in their constitutions. All but one (Vermont) added the right some time since 1996. This year, legislators in at least nine states debated bills to add a constitutional right to hunt and fish.

To reach the ballot, a bill required approval in both legislative chambers. In the state Senate, it passed 27-3. In the state House, it passed 111-1. Gutierrez was one of 25 lawmakers who chose to record that they were present but not voting.

Initially, the Texas Municipal League warned that the bill would lead to constitutional challenges of city ordinances related to gun control. The final version of the measure, however, says the amendment does not affect any authority the legislature grants to cities to regulate firearms in the interest of public safety.

This is part of our 2015 elections coverage. Get more results here.

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J.B. Wogan is a Governing staff writer.
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