How gun safety lessons save Texas hunters

How gun safety lessons save Texas hunters

Texas reported a record low number of hunting accidents in 2023, proving the success of firearms safety training. It can work for non-hunters too.

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 11 hunting accidents were reported in the state last year, resulting in 10 injuries and one death. This is less than the record high of 105 accidents in 1968, which resulted in 37 deaths. The difference, according to TPWD, is training.

In response to rising numbers of accidents in the 1960s, the state created the Hunter Education Program, which began in 1972. In 1988, it became mandatory for anyone applying for a hunting license born after September 2, 1971. The trend shows a clear and steady decline since those dates.

“We have done very well over the years since the 1960s when we had the highest number of deaths and injuries, primarily due to hunter education and outreach efforts,” TPWD Hunter Education Coordinator Steve Hall told us. “There is an inverse relationship: the more students we train, the fewer accidents we see in the field.”

The decline is not because there are fewer fishermen. nothing. In 1968, Texas issued 854,693 hunting licenses, according to a TPWD report. Last year, it issued 1,236,677.

Legal requirements are also important. The TPWD report notes that the hunting accident rate was 7.5 per 100,000 licenses during the period when hunter education was voluntary, but 3.2 per 100,000 licenses after it became mandatory.

The slow rate of hunting incidents reflects a more modest decline in fatal firearm incidents nationwide. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional firearm deaths have decreased by more than 50% since the early 2000s.

But in Texas, gun deaths and non-hunting gun accidents have not seen the same decline. According to the CDC, the fatality rate for all gun-related deaths in Texas has risen steadily from 10.7 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2014 to 15.6 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2021.

According to our analysis of data from the Gun Violence Archive since 2015, gun incidents in Texas peaked in 2020 at 219, resulting in 85 deaths. Last year, there were 155 accidents resulting in 48 deaths, slightly more than 2015 numbers.

In 2021, Texas passed a law making it legal for people to carry a handgun without a license, although a licensing course is still available. The state issued 264,590 handgun licenses last year, the Texas Department of Public Safety reports, 28% fewer than in 2016.

All of this data points to the obvious: firearms safety training saves lives. Works on hunting rifles; It can work for self-defense rifles as well, and poses no threat to the Second Amendment. Requiring proper training to operate hazardous tools is just common sense.

If only our state legislators had the wisdom of those at TPWD who work around firearms every day.

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