A bill has been introduced to the Virginia state senate that if passed as is would be detrimental to the state’s youth hunting program. SB 18 is a comprehensive gun control bill that appears to overhaul a lot of the state’s current gun laws.
The section that poses issues to Virginia’s youth hunting program deals with the age of unsupervised access to firearms.
According to the bill’s text: (The strike-through are what the current law reads)
shall be is unlawful for any person knowingly to authorize a child under the age of twelve 18 to use a firearm except when the child is under the supervision of an adult. Any person violating this subsection shall be is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. For purposes of this subsection, “adult” shall mean means a parent, guardian, person standing in loco parentis to the child, or a person twenty-one 21 years of age or over older who has the permission of the parent, guardian, or person standing in loco parentis to supervise the child in the use of a firearm. “
According to Virginia’s Hunting Regulations, a youth hunter over the age of 12 who has passed a hunter’s safety course can hunt with a firearm unaccompanied. The only time they are required to hunt under supervision is during the youth hunting season.
Base on the language of the proposed bill, the hunting regulations would have to change. They would be required to restrict the age at which a youth can hunt alone. They would have to wait until after their 18th birthday before doing so.
There are absolutely no exceptions made in the bill for youth hunters, and based on the specific changes to the bill it seems like they do not intend to add any.
This bill does a great disservice to the youth of Virginia and is an assault on or hunting culture.
A few weeks back a Facebook post made its rounds declaring that youth hunting would become illegal in Virginia. That was based on statements made by Governor Ralph Northam.
“Yesterday Virginia announced the End of Youth Hunting!” the posts read. “The Governor said that no kid under 18 will be allowed to shoot a gun. This is the end of a 400-year tradition of kids helping put food on their family’s table. It’s a sad day in the Commonwealth.”
Fact-Checking websites ruled the post false because there was no change to current law at the time. The even reached out to the Department of Game & Inland Fisheries who issued a statement.
“There are no changes to currently scheduled youth hunting days. All current laws and regulations pertaining to hunting in Virginia are in effect as shown on the DGIF website and the current Hunting & Trapping in Virginia Digest,” the statement reads. “Any changes to hunting laws would require action either by the Virginia General Assembly or the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries, and currently no such changes are proposed.”
But now with the introduction of SB 18, there is proposed legislation in the General Assembly. If passed it would undoubtedly require changes to how the state writes hunting laws. And it directly affects youth hunting.
A spokeswoman for the governor told the Associated Press that the proposed legislation would not have an effect on “responsible” hunters, but unless they add specific language to the bill that is an absolute lie.
Hunters need to stand up against those that would seek to restrict hunting. I want to be able to pass on hunting to my children and the only way that can be done is uniting as hunters. I recently published a book on why we hunt with the purpose of uniting hunters to ensure the future of hunting. It is available on Amazon.
“The drive to hunt is ingrained in our DNA. Every person is alive today because their ancestors picked up a spear and hunted. There is no escaping it. Hunting is a part of us. So why is it under attack?
Modern society is downplaying and even trying to destroy hunting’s relevance. Hunting is locked in a battle that seeks to bring it to its knees. But all is not lost. Why We Hunt shows us how to combat these attacks by introspection and understanding what motivates the modern hunter to go out into the great outdoors and be an active participant in nature. Join lifelong Hunter and Outdoorsman
Aaron Futrell as he explains the ins and outs of what motivates a modern man to hunt and how to use this knowledge to preserve hunting for future generations.”