January 2019 Church & State | AU Bulletin

A state senator in Pennsylvania is pushing to end the state’s ban on Sunday hunting.

Sen. Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) has claimed that the popularity of hunting has dropped in Pennsylvania, and that part of the reason may be because it’s not permitted on Sundays.

Erie News Now reported that Pennsylvania is one of three states that ban hunting entirely on Sunday. (The others are Massachusetts and Maine.) The bans are remnants of so-called “blue laws” that once restricted commerce on Sundays because most Christians consider it the sabbath. Although the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of blue laws in 1961’s McGowan v. Maryland decision, most have withered away because businesses lobbied to be able to open on Sundays.

Previous versions of Laughlin’s bill have died due to opposition from the politically powerful Pennsylvania Farm Bureau. A statement by the Bureau read, “Farmers want a day of peace and quiet. Most farmers work every day of the week, but try to spend extra time with their families on Sundays. It’s about the only day they get to use their own land for recreational purposes. They don’t want gunshots ringing across their property or hunters knocking on their doors asking for permission to hunt on their land on Sundays.”

Laughlin said he plans to introduce Sunday-hunting legislation this year that will address the Farm Bureau’s concerns.