Legislature must move to end state’s live pigeon shoots, at last
Pennsylvania is the only legal haven in the United States, and one of the few in the world, where those who wish to participate in live pigeon shoots can do so.
It is an insult and an embarrassment to have are state so singled out. And it is another proof of the indefensible yet long-standing weakness of our Legislature and its elected membership.
Former Bloomsburg University professor Walter Brasch recently wrote a column on the current state of legislation to end shoots. It’s available in the Opinion section of http://www.ldnews.com.
He noted that in a recent poll, 75 percent of Pennsylvanians support a ban, while just 16 percent oppose it. The remaining percentage is apparently clueless. Yet even the clueless and opposing still mean a 3-to-1 majority in favor of such a ban.
Just because a majority wishes something does not mean it should be done. Such thinking is gravely dangerous to minority populations, the smallest of which is the individual whose rights must be equally protected with all others.
However, the number should provide weak-willed politicians with sufficient gumption to move legislation to ban these shoots once and for all.
The trouble lies not with what the public wants but with what lobbying groups like the National Rifle Association have to say about it. The NRA’s official position is that eliminating the shoots would be a curtailment of the Second Amendment.
The argument doesn’t fly. Neither do many of the pigeons brought in for the live shoots, because they are either too ill, injured or drugged. What sport is there in ending the life of such a creature?
We are approaching rifle season for antlered deer in Pennsylvania. It’s the premier hunting season of the year in Pennsylvania. We have a long, deep and rich history, a family history, surrounding hunting that we would never wish to see harmed, let alone eliminated.
Pigeon shoots cannot be construed as hunting. Their elimination cannot be construed as any type of first step toward the elimination of blood sports. Pigeon shoots were once an Olympic sport, but the turn of the 20th century found the end to such events because of their cruelty.
More than 100 years later, and Pennsylvania’s politicians still have their heads tucked under their wings, afraid of what the NRA might say about any who would dare to vote against anything it considers gun related.
According to Brasch, there is legislation now in the Senate sponsored by Sen. Pat Browne (R-Allentown), the majority whip, to ban pigeon shoots. He has 22 bipartisan, big-name co-sponsors, including Sen. Dominic Pileggi, the majority leader and Sen. Jay Costa (D-Pittsburgh), the minority floor leader, and the support of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Council of Churches, the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association, the ASPCA, and the Pennsylvania Federation of Humane Societies.
But the House is where this legislation has failed before. We will watch, and we will accept no excuses this time. End these shoots.
Lebanon Daily News