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US judge rules quadriplegic can bear arms

Grants firearms permit to wheelchair-bound hunter

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A US judge has ruled that a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic, who is "physically unable to hold a gun or pull a trigger", can have a firearms permit allowing him to bear arms.

James Cap, 46, of Manville, New Jersey had been fighting for two-and-a-half years to get the go-ahead to buy firearms. In his youth, he'd been a keen hunter until a "devastating spinal cord injury" in a college football game in 1979 seemingly put an end to his hunting days.

He applied for a gun permit in May 2007, after noting on the internet "how other disabled people had successfully used guns with the aid of wheelchair mounts and 'sip-and-puff' devices". These, the Star-Ledger explains, are employed by some quadriplegics to "to move their wheelchairs and perform other tasks", and can be adapted to aim and fire a weapon.

Cap explained: “You aim it right, left or down and take the shot.”

Late in 2008, however, Manville police turned down his application on the grounds Cap "couldn’t control, load or unload a firearm himself". The decision proved controversial, with the National Rifle Association (NRA) expressing its dismay that Cap couldn't enjoy the same rights granted to all American citizens.

The matter was eventually referred to Superior Court Judge John Pursel, who said he could see "no reason" Cap couldn't have a gun. There are conditions: Any gun Caps owns must be stored in a safe and only "qualified people" are permitted to assist him with the firearms.

Cap, who says he's spent $8,750 fighting his cause, said of the judge's decision: “I’m happy to have it. I just wish I would have gotten my money back. That would have been fair.”

Cap's now looking for a suitable weapon to pop a cap in a deer when the shotgun season kicks off in December, and his passion for hunting is slowly returning. He told the Star-Ledger: “I didn’t think I had any feelings toward it, but my heart starts pumping again. Even if I don’t get anything, it’s a lot of fun.”

The Star-Ledger has more details, and a photo of Cap here. ®

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