Texas legislature turns blind eye on gun safety
Anita Porterfield | June 22, 2007 at 01:27 pmby
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Testifying in favor of allowing visually impaired hunters to use laser sighting devices were representatives from the Exotic Wildlife Association, the Texas State Rifle Association and the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities.
Until now, laser sighting devices and the use of lights has been expressly prohibited in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Hunting Code because the use of such equipment serves to stun the stalked game and gives an unfair advantage to the hunter.
Representative Edmund Kuempel issued the following statement on numerous occasions: "This opens up the fun of hunting to additional people, and I think that's great. I've seen this on TV before, when they're (blind people) taking target practice."
Apparently, Texas has now adopted television as a role model for legislation.
According to the Bill Analysis included in the official record, a blind hunter must be "assisted by a person who is not legally blind, has a hunting license, and is at least 13 years of age."
Additionally, the law requires the legally blind hunter to carry proof of being legally blind, but fails to specify exactly what constitutes "proof." While the new law became effective immediately upon Governor Rick Perry's signature on June 15, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has until January 1, 2008 to adopt rules prescribing what is "acceptable proof" of blindness. Until that rule is adopted, violations of the new law cannot be enforced.
All hunters in Texas born on or after September 2, 1971 and who are 17 years old or older must pass an exam to become certified to hunt in this state. The Hunter Education Course is available online, as a home-study curriculum, or at various specified locations around the state.
Texas law requires that any computer service offered by the state must be accessible to disabled Texas residents, including the legally blind. The Hunter Education Course is no different than any other internet-based web site and, unless the blind person owns a device such as a speech synthesizer, the course does not comply with Texas statutes regarding disabilities.
Another factor not considered in the hasty adoption of the "blind hunter" law is the problem of transportation to the hunting lease. A 13 or 14 year old certainly can't drive and, of course, the visually impaired individual can't either. Or can s/he?
According to Chapter 504.201 (2) of the Texas Transportation Code, a legally blind person can apply for a "specialty license plate" and receive that license plate if the application is "accompanied by evidence satisfactory to the department that the applicant or the applicant's vehicle is eligible, and (t)he statement must certify that the person making the application . . . is legally blind or has a mobility problem. . ."
Chapter 681.003 of the Code allows a legally blind person to obtain a "Handicapped" placard.
And, finally, Chapter 522.0235 of the Texas Transportation Code provides for application for a "waiver of the visual standards for a commercial driver's license" if the applicant has had no moving violations during the past three years and agrees to drive only in the State of Texas.
So, listen up, all of you blind Texas hunters. Order a laser sighting device for your rifle; get that special license plate, a handicapped placard, and a commercial driver's license with a waiver for visual impairment. Grab a 13 year old and go kill that deer . . . or tree . . . farmer's cow . . . the farmer? . . . the 13 year old?
Oh well, as Harry Whittington said when Dick Cheney shot him in the face, "It was an accident, just an accident."
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