Freedom to hunt?

Typewriter with paper titled Article

You’ve got to be kidding!


Leave it to the law-faking members of Indiana’s state legislature to take a word most people think they understand and turn it upside down.

That word is freedom.

First we were told that Indiana needed a special amendment to its constitution to protect the “freedom” to farm — a thinly disguised effort to make it impossible for rural towns to protect themselves from the environmental hazards posed by industrial-scale livestock facilities known as CAFOs.

Then we were presented with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This euphemistic exercise was designed to give business owners the “freedom” to discriminate against fellow citizens they considered sinful.

Now we are being asked to enshrine the “freedom” to hunt in our state’s constitution. You heard that right. When you go to your local polling place in a few days you will not only have the chance to vote for the first female president in the history of this republic, you will also be asked to make the freedom to hunt part of Indiana’s Constitution. This question, as it is called in legislative parlance, has been quietly approved by two General Assemblies. This means it is now ready for the rest of us to decide its fate. Here is the question you will be asked to vote on come election day:

“Shall the Constitution of the State of Indiana be amended by adding a Section 39 to Article 1 to provide that the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife shall be forever preserved for the public good, subject only to the laws prescribed by the General Assembly and rules prescribed by virtue of the authority of the General Assembly to: (1) promote wildlife conservation and management; and (2) preserve the future of hunting and fishing?”

If you’re like me, you are liable to read this and say, “Well, shucks, I’m all for promoting wildlife conservation. Where’s the harm in that?”

But before we say “Yes” to this amendment, let’s pause for a moment of reflection.

Let’s recall how last March, our soon to be ex-governor, Mike Pence, signed a bill into law allowing for the expansion of what some people call “canned” hunting in Indiana. Likened to shooting fish in a barrel, canned hunting uses privately-owned animals and takes place in a fenced-in preserve. Some people like this sort of thing because the bucks they kill have been specially bred to grow racks of antlers larger than are usually found in what some folks call “nature.”

The canned hunting bill was enthusiastically supported by the Indiana Farm Bureau (also a backer of freedom to farm legislation), suggesting it has more to do with farming than hunting. Worth noting is that the Indiana Deer Hunters were among the groups expressing opposition to this bill.

Which brings us back to that constitutional amendment we’ll be asked to vote on. You will note that, in addition to its feel-good language about wildlife conservation, it also mentions harvesting. Makes you wonder: Since no one in this state is beating the drum to outlaw hunting or fishing, just what, exactly is this amendment supposed to protect?

Besides, that is, farmers wanting the freedom to turn their acreage into shooting galleries.

Originally published at


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