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Romney Signs Legislation to Promote Hunter Safety

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Governor Mitt Romney today signed legislation requiring all new hunters to take a hunter education course. The measure has the strong support of sportsmen and gun owners.

"It's important that hunters understand the basic skills and responsibilities that will help them to enjoy the sport safely, and to foster an appreciation of hunting for new generations of young people," said Governor Mitt Romney.

Until now, individuals with gun licenses - whether a License to Carry or a Firearm Identification card - have automatically been qualified to receive hunting licenses. The new law provides an exemption for individuals who held hunting licenses prior to January 1, 2007. With the bill's signing, Massachusetts comes into line with the other 49 states that require hunters to take hunter safety courses.

"The Sportsmen in our state have a strong legacy of outdoor safety and etiquette in our communities," said Senator Robert A. Antonioni (D-Leominster), chief sponsor of the legislation. "This bill ensures that this legacy will continue for the many aspiring sportsmen in our state. It puts the Commonwealth on par with the rest of the country."

The legislation was originally proposed by the Worcester County League of Sportsmen, and it was supported by the Gun Owner's Action League (GOAL).

"This legislation recognizes the skill and safety of those previously licensed hunters and goes forward to allow new hunters to gain valuable knowledge in safe hunting procedures and practices," said Representative George N. Peterson Jr. (R-Grafton).

"We are pleased with the passage of yet another correction of Chapter 180 of the Acts of 1998, which created a confusing standard for acquiring a hunting, sporting or fishing license," said James Wallace, GOAL's executive director. "Prior to the passage of this law some eight years ago, hunter education was mandatory for all first time hunters. While GOAL does not normally support mandatory training, it is our belief that every first time hunter should be exposed to the ethics, safety aspects and laws in Massachusetts regarding hunting before taking to the field for the first time."

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