First off, some background. The first Sunday law passed by British subjects on American Soil was enacted by the Colony of Virginia in 1610. If you think "blue laws" are annoying now - here are some excerpts of Connecticut colonial laws:
From 1656: Whosoever shall profane the Lord’s day, or any part of it, either by sinful or servile work, or by unlawful sport, recreation, or otherwise… shall be duly punished by fine, imprisonment, or corporally, according to the nature, and measure of the sin and offence. But if the court upon examination… find that the sin was proudly, presumptuously, and with a high hand committed against the known command and authority of the blessed God, such a person… shall be put to death, that all others may fear and shun such provoking rebellious courses.
From 1721: Whatsoever person shall be guilty of any rude and unlawful behavior on the Lord’s Day, either in word or action, by clamorous discourse, or by shouting, hallowing, screaming, running, riding, dancing, jumping, winding horses, or the like, in any house or place so near to any public meeting house for divine worship that those meet there may be disturbed, shall be fined 40 shillings.
So it wasn't always about drinking... and punishment could be as harsh as death. Nice to know some things have changed.
We had a lot of listener response to todays show on these blue laws, and changing our current laws to allow package store owners the option of selling on Sunday. We heard from non drinkers, drinkers and even som package store owners. Here's some of the pros and cons:
YES! Sell liquor on Sundays:
Shawn on FB: CT should allow package stores to be open on sundays and later evening hours on weekends similar to MA. I've lived in CT for 25 years and am still not used to CT's archaic liquor laws.
Brian on FB: Case in point: Last night my wife and I sampled a great Chardonnay at a restaurant and would have gone out to buy a bottle on the way had a liquor store been open. Now we probably wont bother...and that can't be great for the economy.
Kevin on FB: We don't live in the 1800's anymore. In other states, you can buy hard liquor and wine in supermarkets and pharmacies, whenever you want. What point is there to prohibiting sale of alcohol on Sunday anyway?
Mattsim on Twitter: Yes! Let us buy on Sunday and extend the open hours to at least 10:00pm.
MiraHartford on Twitter: Screw liquor on Sundays; legalize marijuana and sell it on Sundays! Watch economy soar in CT.
WillValenti on Twitter: 7 days or total prohibition. Go big or go home.
Jlabaire on Twitter: Why can I go to a bar and get tanked watching a football game, but can't get a six pack to drink safely at home.
No thanks. I'm fine without it:
Brian from Glastonbury: Maybe we should go back and close everything on Sundays Allow retailers to reduce overhead and slow down life a tad.
Kate on FB: While it would be more convenient, I worry that it would drive small liquor stores out of business. It's their one day to have a day off, so either they're working another day or hiring employees that might not already hire. I've never been to a party where there wasn't enough alcohol because of the blue laws here in CT.
And Doug Rankin from West Hartford sees both sides.
This legislation benefits almost solely the large stores and the super markets who want to add wine and liquor to their shelves, and since they are already open, sell them on Sunday. And lastly, such a rule change would benefit people such as your guest whose constituents abut Massachussets.
But there is abundent evidence that extended hours and Sunday openings don't add to the tax base, but just spreads out people's insatiable consuming, while limiting the flexibility of the small business owner to have a life. It's sad that more citizens don't recognize that. But ultimately, in a down tax year for the state, it will appear as if our congress people are taking action, even if ultimately that action is shown to be fruitless, and anti-small business.
Thanks for your emails, calls, tweets etc.
Author David LaBand thinks it's a matter of time until the fourteen remaining states transition out of the era of the "blue law". Every year this debate comes up in Connecticut - so I'm sure we'll be continuing this discussion in the future. If you have further thoughts, let us know!