April 20, 2017

West Virginia: Legislature Adjourns with Successes for Sportsmen

In West Virginia, two major pro-sportsmen’s bills were recently signed into law, and a House Resolution that supports the Hearing Protection Act was adopted by the House.

Specifically, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus (GSC) member Governor Jim Justice has signed the following bills into law:

Senate Bill 473 – This bill, sponsored by West Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Mark Maynard, legalizes the collection and possession of deer antlers from a person’s own land, public lands unless prohibited by law, or private lands with written permission of landowner in hand. Shed hunting is a popular activity for hunters, and although it was never enforced, shed hunting was illegal prior to the passage of this bill.  

Senate Bill 575 – Under this bill, shooting ranges have enhanced protections from nuisance suits. Nuisance causes of action for noise are often used to restrict or close shooting ranges, and shooting ranges now have increased protections from nuisance suits.

Senate Bill 345, which is sponsored by West Virginia Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Mark Maynard, would allow statewide Sunday hunting on private lands with the written permission of the landowner. Expanding Sunday hunting opportunities is important for increasing hunter access and reducing barriers to participation in hunting. This bill is currently pending the Governor’s signature.

Also, the House of Delegates adopted House Resolution 11 on April 3. HR 11, sponsored by West Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Delegate Rupert Phillips, expressed support and encouraged enactment of the federal Hearing Protection Act (H.R. 367), which would remove sound suppressors from regulation under the National Firearms Act and treat them as ordinary firearms under the Gun Control Act of 1968. The Hearing Protection Act has gained strong support, with more than 100 Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Members signed on as cosponsors.

Suppressors, which are legal for hunting in West Virginia, reduce gunshot noise and protect the health of shooters in addition to helping alleviate noise complaints. 

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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