The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
In this off-off-year election, two states had elections where firearm issues played an important role. In Texas, voters were asked whether to add a "Right to Hunt, Fish and Harvest Amendment" to their state constitution. The constitutional language was:
(a) The people have the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife, including by the use of traditional methods, subject to laws or regulations to conserve and manage wildlife and preserve the future of hunting and fishing.
(b) Hunting and fishing are preferred methods of managing and controlling wildlife.
(c) This section does not affect any provision of law relating to trespass, property rights, or eminent domain.
(d) This section does not affect the power of the legislature to authorize a municipality to regulate the discharge of a weapon in a populated area in the interest of public safety.
As of 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time, the Texas media had called the result, in favor of ratification. With about 66% of precincts reporting, 81% of Texans were voting favor. Texas is the 19th state to add express protection of the right to hunt to its state constitution. Pennsylvania and Vermont were the first, in the 18th century. A right to hunt measure will be on the ballot in Indiana in 2016.
In Virginia, the State Senate had a 21-19 Republican majority. Democrats hoped to pick up at least one seat, which would flip party control thanks to the Lt. Governor's tie-breaking vote. Two key seats were in play:
In the 7th district, covering parts of Virginia Beach and Norfolk, there was an open seat created by a Republican retirement. In the Mansassas area, there was an open seat resulting from a Democratic retirement. Michael Bloomberg's "Everytown for Gun Safety" organization spent massively in both races: $700,000 in the first race, and $1.5 million in the second, according to The Washington Post. Although changing Senate control would not significantly increase chances for passing gun control legislation, since the Virginia Assembly has a solid 2-1 Republican majority, a party change in Senate control might allow some gun control measures to make it out of committee, perhaps pass the Senate, and generate publicity that could be useful in the future.
In the end, nothing changed. The Republicans retained Senate control. In both open seats, the voters elected a candidate of the same party as the retiring incumbent. The Manassas results are not fully in, but with 90% of the vote in, the Democrat has 7% lead, which appears large enough for victory.