With Gov. Pat McCrory’s signature Wednesday, a new law ends North Carolina’s long-standing Sunday ban on hunting with guns.
The law, which takes effect Oct. 1, will still prohibit shooting game between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Sundays, when most Christian church services are held.
Bill supporters said Sunday churchgoers go out to eat and participate in other recreational activities, and hunting should be among them. Bow hunting is already allowed on Sundays. They also argued that the move will improve hunting options for adults who work Saturdays and their children, and will help rural areas that benefit economically from hunters.
The Sunday hunting will still be limited to private property, and hunters must stay at least 500 yards away from a church or a house not on the property. Hunting with firearms will remain barred in Wake and Mecklenburg counties. Other counties could opt out of Sunday hunting in 2017 with a local ordinance.
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The new law, negotiated by House and Senate members, also dictates plans for a trust fund to promote outdoor activities for young people and the creation of an Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council.
“The outdoors has always been an integral part of our way of life and this bill has a number of measures that will improve the stewardship of our natural resources,” McCrory said in a release, making no direct reference to the Sunday hunting changes.
McCrory’s office also announced he signed three other bills, including one that would require child-resistant packaging on containers of nicotine-laced liquid used in electronic cigarettes. Violations of the mandate could result in the highest grade of misdemeanor. A firm or seller of the containers also could be liable for civil damages if sales with unlawful packaging result in injury.