Fish and Assault Weapons

by Bob Schwartz

Fish Head Bullet Weights
Tomorrow, Barack Obama unveils a series of proposals to curb gun violence. Among them is likely to be a reintroduction of a federal ban on the sale of assault weapons, a ten-year prohibition that expired in 2004. Many are pessimistic, believing that such a measure might pass the Senate, but will certainly not make it through the House.

There is a fair amount of discussion about whether people hunt with assault weapons, and if they do, whether they should. It’s a good question, but not nearly as fascinating as the eccentric question of whether people fish with assault weapons.

The short answer is that up until a few years ago, two states did allow fishing with guns. New York State has since repealed its law, leaving Vermont as the only state where you can legally shoot fish (in a lake, but presumably still not in a barrel—except in the privacy of your own home).

Spring hunting for pike is in fact a Vermont tradition. Here is the law:

Vermont Statutes
Title 10: Conservation and Development
Chapter 111: FISH

§ 4606. Taking fish by unlawful means

(e) In Lake Champlain pickerel, northern pike, carp, garfish, bowfin, mullet, shad, suckers, bullhead, and other cull fish may be taken from March 25 to May 25 by shooting and spearing in other than spawning areas designated under section 4140 of this title. For the purposes of this subsection, Lake Champlain includes all connected waters at the same level.

Gun experts do not generally advise shooting in water at all, for the safety of bystanders. But if you do plan to set your sites on Lake Champlain fish, it is likely that assault weapons will still be legal this spring, so nothing other than a sense of fairness, or good sense in general, should be stopping you.