A few weeks ago I got a rather frantic phone call from an older gentleman I know who had just opened the most recent issue of his NRA magazine “the Rifleman” to find a full page add regarding question #1 on the upcoming Kansas ballot. Officially known as House Concurrent Resolution 5008, question #1 proposes adding an amendment to the Kansas Constitution protecting our right to hunt, fish and trap. It reads on the ballot exactly as follows:
“The people have the right to hunt, fish and trap, including by the use of traditional methods, subject to reasonable laws and regulations that promote wildlife conservation and management and that preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Public hunting and fishing shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. This section shall not be construed to modify any provision of law relating to trespass, property rights or water resources.”
Nineteen states already guarantee these rights in their constitutions and Kansas is one of several more moving that direction. The general thinking is that by guaranteeing these rights with written constitutional amendments, it will become much harder and more expensive for “Anti groups” to cause trouble in those states.
I hadn’t planned to write any more about this before the election, but my friend seemed quite upset and confused about the meaning and need for this proposal, so I decided to address the questions and concerns he had, hoping these answers will help others also.
His first concern was that this proposal was put on the ballot by some “Anti-Group.” No anti-group is directly responsible for the presence of question #1 on the ballot. When this proposal first surfaced in 2015, I questioned the need for it, but in speaking with one of the congressman who sponsored the bill and with a representative of the Kansas Rifle Association, it became clear that they were thinking ahead and being proactive in trying to prevent anti-groups from getting footholds in Kansas. Even though all Kansans already enjoy the right to hunt, fish and trap, (which I see more as privileges instead of rights) having those given to us as “rights” by a written constitutional amendment will be very powerful.
His next concern was whether to vote “yes” or “no.” Evidently the written language of the proposed amendment confused him, but voting yes passes the proposal and it becomes an amendment; voting no fails the proposal and it does not become a constitutional amendment. Please vote “YES.”
His final concern seemed to upset him the most, and that was what happens if it fails? The possibility of this proposed amendment failing here in Kansas is about as slim as me winning the lottery. However, should this proposal fail November 8, NOTHING will change. We will all wake up the next morning with the same hunting, fishing and trapping rights we had when we went to bed. By not having those rights given to us by our state constitution, we won’t have that leverage against anti-group’s shenanigans here in our state we would’ve had with its passage.
There you have my spiel about HCR 5008, otherwise known as question #1 on the upcoming ballot. I first questioned its worth, but after seeing how many other states are passing these sorts of constitutional amendments, I’m onboard. You will find this as the very last question on the back of your ballot. I see no downside to its passage, so please vote YES to question #1 on November 8. This is Steve Gilliland, author of Exploring Kansas Outdoors, and I approve this message!
Steve can be contacted by email at [email protected]