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Under current law, honorably discharged veterans or active members of the United States armed forces and current members of the Texas Army National Guard, the Texas Air National Guard, and the Texas State Guard are exempt from the requirement to complete the live firing portion of a hunter education course.
HB 2009 would waive any requirement for the hunter education course for the exempted individuals. This bill would also expand the types of exempted individuals to include former members of the Army National Guard, Air National Guard, and State Guard as well as current or former state peace officers.
This legislation represents another conferring of special benefits on a specific, preferred category of people. There is a reasonable argument to be made that people who are trained in the use of firearms as a condition of their employment should not need to demonstrate firearms proficiency for a hunter education course. This legislation exempts a certain class of people which in our view is not the proper role of limited government.
We would support an amendment to simply exempt anyone who can demonstrate that their employment or recent past employment requires firearms training and proficiency. This would take care of everyone who has already clearly demonstrated firearms proficiency without making special exceptions for preferred groups while leaving out others.
The provision stipulating that people exempt from the live fire requirement also be exempt from needing to take a hunter education course is also questionable. Just because a person has firearms experience as a precondition of their job does not mean they are any more knowledgeable about hunting issues than the average person required to take the course in order to hunt. We recommend amending the bill to remove this provision as well.
Should these suggested amendments be adopted we would support passage of this legislation.