MT: Enumerate the Right to Hunt within the Montana Constitution!

Let’s Ensure that Future Generations of Montanans Continue to Enjoy the Natural Bounty of this Great Nation by Enumerating the Right Hunt!

Tell the Senate Committee on Fish and Game to Report House Bill 372!

The right to hunt is deeply rooted within our American system of republican government.  Historically, the European game laws made hunting the sole dominion of those privileged few within the landed gentry, and frequently imposed draconian sentences, which commonly included the death penalty for peasants caught “poaching” on the lands of the aristocracy.

The oldest laws enumerating the correlative right date back to the initial years of the American Revolution when unfettered colonists eagerly sought to reclaim their God-given rights from a tyrannical government. By studying these early recognitions of the right to sustain life with the natural bounty of God’s creation, one clearly denotes that these principled laws sought to guard against feudal privileges as practiced in Europe.

“Fox Hunters Meeting” by Charles Hunt (1840)

Conversely, the recent surge in the adoption of constitutional amendments that seek to protect this natural right are in response to attempts by far-left activists, working in concert with unrestrained Federal agencies, who seem to think that humanity is not inherently a part of creation and has not been tasked with the stewardship of the earth.

In order to better comprehend what our Founders’ intended for this nation, one must seek truth through a forthright study of the documentary history they left behind. Moreover, when contemplating the consensus regarding our uniquely American political philosophy, one discovers that what they disagreed upon was relatively minor. Apart from the massive works of Jefferson, there are numerous other examples of the original intent from the Founding Era concerning principles that are embedded within the first laws and constitutions enacted by the sovereign States. Historians and political pundits habitually neglect the labyrinthine recesses of primary sources at the State level, as well as private letters and public declarations. These collective primary sources unequivocally demonstrate that our Founders agreed upon more they disagreed.

As early as 1776 the Pennsylvania Assembly declared that “[t]hat the People have a Right to bear Arms for the Defense of themselves and the State,” and that “[t]he inhabitants of this State shall have liberty to fowl and hunt in seasonable times on the lands they hold, and on all other lands therein not inclosed.” Throughout the former Thirteen Colonies we find that such declaration of rights are indicative of a palpable general agreement that inherently linked the right to hunt with the right to “keep and bear arms.”

This trend of maintaining an obvious link between the Right to Life and its corollaries survived the armed struggle. In 1787, during the ratification debates surrounding the Federal Constitution, Anti-federalists demanded that a declaration stating “That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and their own state, or the United States, or for the purpose of killing game…” be included along with other enumerations to serve as a codified reference point for future generations. With a healthy and prophetic distrust of a centralized government unencumbered by prudent restraints, these ardent defenders of natural rights also recommended the following language be adopted:

“The inhabitants of the several states shall have liberty to fowl and hunt in seasonable times, on the lands they hold, and on all other lands in the United States not enclosed, and in like manner to fish in all navigable waters, and others not private property, without being restrained therein by any laws to be passed by the legislature of the United States”

“The Argali – Mountain Sheep” by Alfred Jacob Miller (1810-1878)

Just from these few references, one can plainly discern that the Founders, building upon the lessons of the past and human nature, considered the right to feed one’s family from the natural flora and fauna that is so bountiful within these United States to be a characteristic outpouring of the first law of nature: the Right to Life. The fount of this fundamental liberty is found within the God-given rights enumerated within the Second Amendment to the Federal Compact.

This crucial linkage was acknowledged by the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller, where, in the majority opinion, Justice Scalia observed that “the Second Amendment’s prefatory clause announces the purpose for which the right was codified: to prevent elimination of the militia. The prefatory clause does not suggest that preserving the militia was the only reason Americans valued the ancient right; most undoubtedly thought it even more important for self-defense and hunting.” The Supreme Court’s exhaustive review of the above historical background pays deference to the truth concerning the interrelationship between hunting and the right to defend life, liberty, and property with commonly held arms.

Accordingly, GOA supports this critical piece of pro-freedom legislation, so that future generations of Montanans may enjoy the “blessing of liberty”…including the right to provide for their families from the natural bounty of this Great Nation!   

H.B. 372 is being heard on Thursday in the State Senate Committee on Fish and Game at 3:00 PM in Room 422!

Patriots, please try to attend each hearing in person.

If you are unable to attend the hearings, please Take Action to submit your supporting statement for this important constitutional referendum.