A bill introduced this week would help end long-standing discrimination against a group that until now has been unable to hunt effectively — blind Texans.
I personally had not known that there were a significant number of blind hunters out there, thinking that although certainly each of us has a God-given right to shoot at things, the ability to see those things was an important factor in exercising one’s right to hit them with a bullet. And a complete inability to see does seem to be a disqualifier, but this bill would at least make it possible for those hunters who are only legally blind to participate.
It would do so by authorizing the use of laser sights by the legally blind during regular hunting hours, so long as the blind person carries written proof of blindness and is assisted by a person who is not legally blind. The bill would amend existing Parks and Wildlife Code section 62.005, which currently prohibits the use of any artificial light, including headlights, to illuminate a game animal or bird that you are about to shoot.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Edmund Kuempel, said that the legislation would simply add approval for laser sighting devices to Texas hunting laws, which already allow the visually impaired to hunt with the aid of the not visually impaired. Or at least they do according to Rep. Kuempel, who did not cite the law that allows this activity, but says he has seen it on TV. "I’ve seen this on TV before," he said, "when they’re taking target practice. When they [the blind hunters] aim the gun, the guide tells them, aim two inches higher or two inches lower and you’re on the target, and you’re off and running." Extending this from target practice to actual hunting was the next logical step.
If the bill passes, the state would have until 2008 to come up with a definition of "legally blind," which apparently it does not currently have on the books.