Millions of Virginians enjoy the challenge of hunting, target shooting, and fishing. As a child, I spent much of my summers on Smith Mountain Lake and Schroon Lake in the Adirondacks of New York fishing for Perch, Blue Gill, Crappie, Carp, Catfish (see picture at left) and if I was lucky, Striped Bass or up north for Perch, Bass, and, if I was lucky, Pike, Pickerel, and Trout.
My mother’s family comes from a long rural tradition from Franklin County in Southwest Virginia. In many families hunting and gun ownership is a family tradition and very much a way of life. The Right to Hunt is enshrined Article XI, Sect. 4 of the Constitution of Virginia. The United States Supreme Court recently found that Virginians have a Constitutional Right to gun ownership, but left open the question of how to balance the rights of owners and public safety. Virginia’s natural assets also provide tourist dollars with national bass fishing competitions occurring on our lakes and rivers.
We must respect the values, activities, and way of life of all of Virginia’s residents. Keeping our rivers, streams, and lakes clean allows Virginians to enjoy the same activities that I did as a child. Preserving open space is critical to ensuring opportunities to hunt. However, as with all things, there is a time and place for everything, and while the vast majority of gun owners use them responsibly, there are a small number of people who do not. I believe in the right to bear arms to hunt and protect one’s family, but I do not believe that felons, terrorists, or troubled teenagers have a right bear arms that threaten our children.
The 36th District is one of the few legislative districts that borders one of the top bass fisheries in the United States - the Potomac River. This is also threatened by invasive species such as the Northern Snakehead which was first discovered in the United States right in the 44th District in Dogue Creek. On trips I've taken with the Department of Game & Inland Fisheries in the district we caught 12 snakehead per hour in Little Hunting Creek and 24 per hour in Dogue Creek. Funding for these programs is critical along with working with other states through organizations such as the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin.
Preserving the quality of our streams, rivers and lakes and open space are critical state government functions that preserve our quality of life, promote tourism, and our environment for generations to come. I will continue to: