Massachusetts: Caucus Co-Chairs Take a Stand for Sportsmen in Letter to the Governor

Contact: Joe Mullin, New England States Senior Coordinator

On April 7, two Co-Chairs of the bipartisan and bicameral Massachusetts Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus submitted a letter of consideration to Governor Baker, requesting that the Governor list firearms retailers and shooting range facilities as essential businesses which would allow them to remain operational throughout the COVID-19 shutdown. The letter also requests that the Governor provide reasonable accommodations to firearms owners who may be reaching the expiration date on their licenses by offering an extension of time during this unusual period – something that is already being offered to residents with expiring driver’s licenses and vehicle inspection stickers.

“There are over 538,000 hunters and anglers in Massachusetts who contribute more than $17.5 million towards the American System of Conservation Funding. It is crucial that their voices are heard, especially during these times of uncertainty,” said Caucus Co-Chair Senator Anne Gobi. The submission of this letter further exemplifies the Caucus’ effort in representing the Bay State’s sportsmen and women. 

“During these unprecedented and difficult times, the Massachusetts Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus remains focused on and engaged in advocating for the Commonwealth’s many outdoor sporting communities,” said Caucus Co-Chair Representative David Vieira.

Recreating outdoors – whether through hunting, angling, or recreational shooting – is typically practiced in manners that are already in compliance with the social distancing parameters suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Governor’s orders. While in pursuit of game, hunters and anglers are most successful when distancing themselves from others. With the upcoming spring turkey season, many sportsmen and women need the ability to renew their firearms licenses, access their local firearms retailers, and ensure a high-level of shooting proficiency at the range.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s (CSF) thanks Senator Gobi and Representative Vieira for issuing this letter and remaining vocal for the sporting community. The letter coincides with CSF’s outreach to all 50 Governors, encouraging them to maintain sporting opportunities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. CSF will continue to work alongside state legislative sportsmen’s caucuses towards protecting and advancing hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and trapping across the nation.

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Recently, Virginia has proposed legislation that would make the punishment for poaching, in their state, a 1-5 year prison sentence through HB-449. Poaching undermines the social acceptance of hunters, jobs, recreation, local and state economies, and conservation efforts. How should poachers be punished?

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