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Shawnee News Star

It’s time to enforce the ban
2002-11-27

Three weeks ago Oklahomans were asked to decide a state question that would ban cockfighting. With 56 percent of the people voting in favor of State Question 687 to ban the blood sport, the people made a statement.

They voted to join 47 other states to ban cockfighting, leaving only Louisiana and New Mexico where it remains legal. In New Mexico, even, there are some counties where it's banned.

Even though Oklahomans have voted to ban it and the illegal gambling that goes along with it, judges in jurisdictions that comprise 11 counties have issued injunctions that prevent enforcement of the ban.

Something is wrong with this picture. Whether one agrees with the ban or not, the fact is, Oklahomans voted in favor of SQ 687. They didn't even have the opportunity to vote on it until after the initiative petition that was circulated to put it on the ballot cleared a number of hurdles in the courts.

But the state Supreme Court ruled that it was legal for it to be placed on the ballot.

Now we have district judges from rural areas who are questioning the constitutionality of the ban. That seems a bit odd when the highest court at the state level approved its being placed on the ballot to allow a vote.

Proponents of the ban say that the wording of the proposition was similar to legislation that was passed a number of years ago that prohibits dog fights.

Opponents (those who favor cockfighting) are trying to forestall implementation of the ban, only delaying what we believe is the inevitable.

The injunctions issued by these judges is likely to cause another lengthy series of court battles that may ultimately lead to it once again reaching the state Supreme Court. Oklahoma is being laughed at by other progressive states that long since have banned cockfighting.

We are not naive enough to think that once the ban is enforced statewide that this will wipe out cockfighting. It should cut down on the activity, though, if law enforcement officers and prosecutors are responsible in doing their job in both responding to the cockfights themselves and the illegal gambling that goes along with it.

Wording of the cockfighting proposition might have been a little awkward. It would outlaw raising roosters for fighting and would give law enforcement the power to confiscate facilities used to house and breed the birds.

But there's little doubt that officers and prosecutors would have much time for that portion of the newly created ban. Their emphasis should be on the fights and the betting that accompanies it.

Let's face it. The whole idea behind putting two game cocks in the same pit to fight to the death is the high stake wagers that are on the line.

To our knowledge, gambling, other than that allowed on tribal lands and at the horse races, remains illegal in this state. It's the responsibility of law enforcement to uphold the laws of this state and Oklahomans voted Nov. 5 to ban cockfighting.

It's amazing to us that judges can delay implementation of a law that more than a half million state voters approved. We do believe, that in the end, the law will be upheld and that justice will prevail.