Blind shooter gets his guns back

posted at 7:16 pm on May 12, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

Is justice blind? Sometimes. And so is New Jersey resident Stephen Hopler, a gun collector and enthusiast from the Garden State. (Hat tip to Warner Todd Huston.) Or at least he was until the local authorities decided that a blind guy shouldn’t have weapons. Then things began to look ugly, at least for those who could see.

A blind gun collector can keep his gun permit and will have the weapons previously seized from his house by police returned to him, following a judge’s order handed down Friday in Superior Court in Morristown.

Steven Hopler, 49, of Rockaway Township won the latest battle in an ongoing war over his Second Amendment rights. The Morris County Prosecutor’s office had asked Judge Thomas Manahan to revoke Hopler’s firearms ID card and seize all guns in his possession, arguing Hopler abused alcohol and posed a danger to others by being a gun owner.

Hopler’s attorney, Gregg Trautmann, said, “First it was, ‘He can’t own guns because he’s blind.’ Now they tried, ‘you’re a habitual drunkard and we think it’s improper because you’re a habitual drunkard.’” .

You’d think for the police and the courts to step and and stomp on Mr. Hopler’s second amendment rights that he’d have had to done something terrible, like… shoot somebody. Well, in a way you’d be right.

The most recent legal scuffle began in 2008 when Hopler, who became legally blind as a result of diabetes in 1991, shot himself in the shin while cleaning one of his guns.

This is a tawdry story all around. But it looks as if the judge has looked over the evidence and found that the man has never done anything to harm others or indicate that his second amendment rights should be abridged. His permit will be restored and he can go back to collecting as he chooses. It’s certainly a long time overdue, but this looks like at least one story of a happy outcome in New Jersey.


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Isn’t the nanny state wonderful?
/sarc

rbj on May 12, 2012 at 7:24 PM

I swear to God that the day the government in any form shows up at my doorstep to confiscate my “anything”, they will get it all; every last effing slug.

phxconservative on May 12, 2012 at 7:24 PM

If he lives in New Jersey, he may have some mental problem that makes him dangerous.

Fortunately, the NJ courts do not notice.
/

WhatNot on May 12, 2012 at 7:24 PM

The Morris County prosecutor is far more blind than Stephen Hopler. Hopler didn’t violate the law but the prosecutor attempted to create case law anyway when legacy ordinances apparently failed to give him an excuse to seize Hopler’s legally-acquired private property. For once, sanity won the day and the prosecutor is left to suck on his very short-barreled pistol.

PolarCoug on May 12, 2012 at 7:27 PM

Next:

“Authorities Confiscate Blind Antique Car Collector’s 1957 Corvette”

Well, it’s not like he can drive dat thing . . .

BigAlSouth on May 12, 2012 at 7:28 PM

Hooray.
.
.
.
BUT . . . what if he was a perfectly functional person, who had shot an intruder?

listens2glenn on May 12, 2012 at 7:29 PM

Maybe they could take O’bozo’s pen. Not like he is able to use it.

WryTrvllr on May 12, 2012 at 7:30 PM

phxconservative on May 12, 2012 at 7:24 PM

.
: ) +++++

listens2glenn on May 12, 2012 at 7:31 PM

The most recent legal scuffle began in 2008 when Hopler, who became legally blind as a result of diabetes in 1991, shot himself in the shin while cleaning one of his guns.

yes, and so letting him have his guns back is such a great idea right? /

how do we know he won’t accidentally hurt himself again? or accidentally hurt someone else?

i support the 2nd amendment… for people who can actually see where they are aiming. letting him have guns defies all common sense.

Sachiko on May 12, 2012 at 7:31 PM

Blind shooter gets his guns back

New Jersey??? I woulda bet cash money on that story being from hyar in Texas.

:P

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on May 12, 2012 at 7:35 PM

Welcome to the impertinence of another loony “tolerant” state that actually denies it’s citizens it’s constitutional right!

Why doesn’t Holder and his crew sue states that violate the constitution? Rather than those than enforce it and obey it’s laws?

Is NY, NJ or any other state that denies 2A any different than the Nazi’s old regime?

Twana on May 12, 2012 at 7:36 PM

It’s great to hear that there is no more crime in New Jersey so that they can focus all this time on blind people with guns.

They should go through the courthouse and replace all the statues of the blindfolded woman with the scale with a blindfolded woman pointing a shotgun.

pedestrian on May 12, 2012 at 7:37 PM

While I have no problem with him “collecting” guns, I do have a problem with him having AMMUNITION for said guns.

Next time you fly somewhere, INSIST that your airline pilot is BLIND.

#1 rule of gun handling: Make sure the weapon is unloaded, even if you’ve just unloaded it yourself. VISUALLY inspect that it’s not loaded or that a round is not stuck in the chamber.

Sorry, but Hopler is INCAPABLE of following Rule #1.

GarandFan on May 12, 2012 at 7:37 PM

Blind, a drunkard (said his lawyer), and once shot himself? New Jersey gives back guns–comedy ensues.

:P

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on May 12, 2012 at 7:40 PM

“Permit” to own?

What a crock of horsesh…

WeekendAtBernankes on May 12, 2012 at 7:41 PM

#1 rule of gun handling: Make sure the weapon is unloaded, even if you’ve just unloaded it yourself. VISUALLY inspect that it’s not loaded or that a round is not stuck in the chamber.

Sorry, but Hopler is INCAPABLE of following Rule #1.

Visually? Yeah, ’cause a blind person can’t stick their finger in there.

Stupid comment.

WeekendAtBernankes on May 12, 2012 at 7:42 PM

BTW the guy can’t see what he’s shooting at or what’s behind his target. That said, why can’t he own a gun? Should it be illegal for him to own a car as well? A weed whacker?

A blind man could do a lot of damage with a chainsaw, maybe we should ban those too.

WeekendAtBernankes on May 12, 2012 at 7:44 PM

Blind people living in an apartment building can leave their stove on too.

Old people can drive down a farmers market.

where does this line of reasoning stop???

WryTrvllr on May 12, 2012 at 7:55 PM

I swear to God that the day the government in any form shows up at my doorstep to confiscate my “anything”, they will get it all; every last effing slug.
phxconservative on May 12, 2012 at 7:24 PM

Tough internet guy!. Braggerdocious! :)

If they show up, you will do nothing but tuck your tail between your legs and give them whatever they ask for. Why do right winger act tough only behind a key board? Sigh

Uppereastside on May 12, 2012 at 7:56 PM

If they show up, you will do nothing but tuck your tail between your legs and give them whatever they ask for. Why do right winger act tough only behind a key board? Sigh

Uppereastside on May 12, 2012 at 7:56 PM

What time does your first client show up?

arnold ziffel on May 12, 2012 at 8:02 PM

If they show up, you will do nothing but tuck your tail between your legs and give them whatever they ask for… Sigh

Uppereastside on May 12, 2012 at 7:56 PM

…I know!…I have nothing between my legs…and it shows!
Upyerassideways

KOOLAID2 on May 12, 2012 at 8:08 PM

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

See anything in there that says “unless any of those people are blind”? Me neither.

WhatSlushfund on May 12, 2012 at 8:13 PM

If they show up, you will do nothing but tuck your tail between your legs and give them whatever they ask for. Why do right winger act tough only behind a key board? Sigh

Uppereastside on May 12, 2012 at 7:56 PM

Which is why your heroes at homeland security have decided the locals are more dangerous than Al Qaeda.

Should be fun to watch the next power outage.

WryTrvllr on May 12, 2012 at 8:16 PM

I’m curious, there is legally blind and then blind not being able to see anything, which one is he?

DDay on May 12, 2012 at 8:18 PM

Tough internet guy!. Braggerdocious! :)

If they show up, you will do nothing but tuck your tail between your legs and give them whatever they ask for. Why do right winger act tough only behind a key board? Sigh

Uppereastside on May 12, 2012 at 7:56 PM

You are 100% wrong. You might view me as a right wing wacko, but I am just an average guy who grew up in Phoenix. I am prepared to defend my second amendment rights with my second amendment rights.

If you knocked on my door to confiscate my weapons, I would put one in your forehead and accept the consequences. I am a law abiding citizen who owns weapons. Deal with it.

phxconservative on May 12, 2012 at 8:48 PM

If they show up, you will do nothing but tuck your tail between your legs and give them whatever they ask for… Sigh

Uppereastside on May 12, 2012 at 7:56 PM

You really have been brainwashed by the media and your blue state pals.

Time to expand your horizons and do some learning.

CorporatePiggy on May 12, 2012 at 8:48 PM

Maybe UpperEast should meet some people outside his clique.

Starting with phxconservative.

Heck during Katrina the gun-grabbing by the weekend warriors (National Guard) did NOT go smoothly but the MSM did keep that piece of the disaster quiet…

CorporatePiggy on May 12, 2012 at 8:50 PM

You really have been brainwashed by the media and your blue state pals.

Time to expand your horizons and do some learning.

CorporatePiggy on May 12, 2012 at 8:48 PM

If you had any idea how many city types I’ve invited to go hunting with me, only to find that they are TERRIFIED of being away from the city (in hickville) and in the woods (with a 30-06 in hand)

Makes me laugh everytime.

WryTrvllr on May 12, 2012 at 8:53 PM

I’m curious, there is legally blind and then blind not being able to see anything, which one is he?

DDay on May 12, 2012 at 8:18 PM

I have read that he is legally blind, meaning he can see some but not effectively outside controlled conditions.

Random Numbers (Brian Epps) on May 12, 2012 at 8:54 PM

“It was then that I realized that the judge wasn’t going to look at the 27 eight by ten color glossy photos with the pictures and arrows on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us.”

Theophile on May 12, 2012 at 9:20 PM

Tough internet guy!. Braggerdocious! :)

If they show up, you will do nothing but tuck your tail between your legs and give them whatever they ask for. Why do right winger act tough only behind a key board? Sigh

Uppereastside on May 12, 2012 at 7:56 PM

So, do you support the State taking the blind guy’s guns?

Oldnuke on May 12, 2012 at 9:30 PM

Longstreet! :-D

DoubleClutchin on May 12, 2012 at 9:31 PM

If you had any idea how many city types I’ve invited to go hunting with me, only to find that they are TERRIFIED of being away from the city (in hickville) and in the woods (with a 30-06 in hand)

Makes me laugh everytime.

WryTrvllr on May 12, 2012 at 8:53 PM

One of the many reasons I hunt alone :).

CorporatePiggy on May 12, 2012 at 9:40 PM

Tough internet guy!. Braggerdocious! :)

If they show up, you will do nothing but tuck your tail between your legs and give them whatever they ask for. Why do right winger act tough only behind a key board? Sigh

Uppereastside on May 12, 2012 at 7:56 PM

Says the twit who would never consider slogging through a tamarack swamp in the dark. Boo!

Yoop on May 12, 2012 at 9:42 PM

Oldnuke on May 12, 2012 at 9:30 PM

What I don’t support is crazy conservatives promoting violence against government officials. We are a nation of laws. You feel the government is infringing on your rights? Take them to court. Don’t come here pretending like some tough guy who can singlehandedly shoot down cops following orders.

Uppereastside on May 12, 2012 at 9:42 PM

What I don’t support is crazy conservatives promoting violence against government officials. We are a nation of laws. You feel the government is infringing on your rights? Take them to court. Don’t come here pretending like some tough guy who can singlehandedly shoot down cops following orders.

Uppereastside on May 12, 2012 at 9:42 PM

Two words for you, chump: Nuremburg trials. “Just following orders” isn’t a defense anymore. Government officials, including court officers, are people too, and it’ll be a cold day in hell before I roll over and accept a violation of any of my god-given rights, second amendment or otherwise.

gryphon202 on May 12, 2012 at 9:48 PM

You feel the government is infringing on your rights? Take them to court.

Uppereastside on May 12, 2012 at 9:42 PM

Infringing? Interesting word. What is the penalty to a government for infringing on a citizen’s rights? What penalty do you think appropriate?

Oldnuke on May 12, 2012 at 9:50 PM

Blind? Drunk? What about blind drunk? Regardless, I’m glad he did not have to give up his constitutional rights due to a disability.

ronval912 on May 12, 2012 at 9:52 PM

You feel the government is infringing on your rights? Take them to court.

Uppereastside on May 12, 2012 at 9:42 PM

Infringing? Interesting word. What is the penalty to a government for infringing on a citizen’s rights? What penalty do you think appropriate?

Oldnuke on May 12, 2012 at 9:50 PM

I’ll answer for Uppereastside, since he seems to have his head up his upperbackside: There is no statutory penalty short of impeachment and/or constitutional amendment. Fat lot of good either will do, since impeachment is viewed as politically untenable and the government has done everything humanly possible to prevent an Artcile V convention from being convened. So what recourse does that leave us with?

gryphon202 on May 12, 2012 at 9:53 PM

Uppereastside on May 12, 2012 at 9:42 PM

Will there be a penalty should i accidentally hit a drone hovering over my farm? what happened to your nation of laws?

WryTrvllr on May 12, 2012 at 9:54 PM

There should be no impediment to blind people keeping loaded guns in their homes. I keep a 12 gauge by my bed that I guarantee I can fire accurately in complete darkness or with my eyes closed if an intruder is coming through the bedroom door in the middle of the night.

ronval912 on May 12, 2012 at 9:58 PM

What I don’t support is crazy conservatives promoting violence against government officials. We are a nation of laws. You feel the government is infringing on your rights? Take them to court. Don’t come here pretending like some tough guy who can singlehandedly shoot down cops following orders.

Uppereastside on May 12, 2012 at 9:42 PM
Two words for you, chump: Nuremburg trials. “Just following orders” isn’t a defense anymore. Government officials, including court officers, are people too, and it’ll be a cold day in hell before I roll over and accept a violation of any of my god-given rights, second amendment or otherwise.

gryphon202 on May 12, 2012 at 9:48 PM

Exactly.. One of reasons for citizenry owning guns is to keep the government in check by fear. If government gets out of hand like Germany 1942; how in the heck do you take someone to court?

melle1228 on May 12, 2012 at 10:36 PM

Oldnuke on May 12, 2012 at 9:30 PM

What I don’t support is crazy conservatives promoting violence against government officials. We are a nation of laws. You feel the government is infringing on your rights? Take them to court. Don’t come here pretending like some tough guy who can singlehandedly shoot down cops following orders.

Uppereastside on May 12, 2012 at 9:42 PM

This “crazy conservative” will let the government official at least show me the warrant. If I have done nothing wrong–which is very highly probable–he/she will only be able to get my firearms from my cold, dead hands…and after I have fully defended myself to the best of my ability, which would mean shooting back.

Have you seen how much time and effort it has taken in New Orleans to get owners re-united with their firearms? It’s horrible, and there is no effective recourse against a rogue government. (We can see how well suing the federal government in the federal courts has done in getting drilling permits after the BP spill has done–despite two injunctions, very, very few permits [relatively] have been issued.)

And what if I had needed those weapons to defend myself after the government took away my means of self defense? Then I would be dead or gravely injured, and NOTHING that the government could do or pay would compensate me for that.

Kevin K. on May 12, 2012 at 10:38 PM

If they took away his guns because he was married to a man Eric Holder would have launched a federal investigation.

Smedley on May 12, 2012 at 11:10 PM

the local authorities decided that a blind guy shouldn’t have weapons.

They never should have been taken. And I would have refused such an order.

TX-96 on May 13, 2012 at 1:27 AM

#1 rule of gun handling: Make sure the weapon is unloaded, even if you’ve just unloaded it yourself. VISUALLY inspect that it’s not loaded or that a round is not stuck in the chamber.

>#1 rule of gun handling: A gun is ALWAYS LOADED, never point the muzzle at any thing that should not have a hole in it. PERIOD!

Pole-Cat on May 13, 2012 at 2:09 AM

If I were the blind guy I’ll sue the police and anyone involved into bankruptcy.

jdun on May 13, 2012 at 2:52 AM

So how does a blind guy get a gun permit? Aren’t you supposed to pass a shooting test first?

SoulGlo on May 13, 2012 at 3:07 AM

You know, I just don’t understand all these stories where somebody accidentally shoots themselves while cleaning firearm. My husband and I are VERY careful to remove clips, make damn sure there isn’t one in the chamber, and then double and triple check before we even think about taking the thing apart to clean it. Revolvers should be a no-brainer.

I just don’t get it.

sage0925 on May 13, 2012 at 3:32 AM

Gimme back my bullets and put ‘em back where they belong.

Sherman1864 on May 13, 2012 at 3:52 AM

The power of the State ends at my natural right to self-defense.

Even those who are convicted of felonies are provided that natural right when there is no society there to protect them, when wild animals attack, when criminals turn on ex-cons and when war visits their doorstep. No jury in the US will convict an ex-con who has done so and that was as recently as post-Katrina.

That natural right resides within each of us and is contained within all living beings no matter what their size, shape or form. That includes blind humans with whatever means they choose.

The State is to protect society, not tell it what to do. Our moral judgment as individuals as expressed through society against convicted felons and those unable to differentiate that there is worth and value to the lives of others or who enjoy killing is one that is to protect society from them.

That moral judgment is put into law via the State, not imposed by the State upon society. Those with mere physical impairments are expected to take precautions in their utilization of arms for their own well being and that of society and even those who are NOT blind can suffer just a fractional lapse in safety precautions: that is the nature of being human, we are not perfect beings.

The State is not created by nature but instituted amongst men.

When the State considers itself the granter of natural rights you live in tyranny.

ajacksonian on May 13, 2012 at 7:14 AM

Sachiko on May 12, 2012 at 7:31 PM

How do we know that you won’t accidentally hurt or kill yourself or others driving to work.

Slowburn on May 13, 2012 at 8:01 AM

He shouldn’t vote! He might pull the wrong lever.

Finbar on May 13, 2012 at 8:12 AM

Sometimes we must accept the bad along with the good. Those who have 20/20 vision can harbor guns. Those with less than 20/20 vision can also own guns.

Deal with it. Go chug a bottle of Jack Daniels.

gasmeterguy on May 13, 2012 at 8:37 AM

So how does a blind guy get a gun permit? Aren’t you supposed to pass a shooting test first?

SoulGlo on May 13, 2012 at 3:07 AM

A) He was not born blind

B) I’m not aware of any jurisdiction that requires periodic shooting tests for renewal of permits, except for law enforcement

gryphon202 on May 13, 2012 at 9:41 AM

Gimme Back My Bullets!

cane_loader on May 13, 2012 at 9:52 AM

#1 rule of gun handling: Make sure the weapon is unloaded, even if you’ve just unloaded it yourself. VISUALLY inspect that it’s not loaded or that a round is not stuck in the chamber.

Sorry, but Hopler is INCAPABLE of following Rule #1.

While I understand the sentiment, if that rule was equitably enforced you’d have to disarm an awful lot of cops who had shot their TV or themselves in their own home.

Socratease on May 13, 2012 at 9:54 AM

If a blind man hears someone breaking his windows an climbing up the stairs toward his bedroom in the middle of the night, he has every right in the world to unleash hell upon the intruder.

What’s going to be more effective at putting the perp down, or at least getting him to hightail it out of the house? A few .38 slugs flying in his direction, or an impassioned plea of “I’m blind and defenseless. Please don’t take my stuff or hurt me.”?

Bruce MacMahon on May 13, 2012 at 9:55 AM

Pole-Cat on May 13, 2012 at 2:09 AM

Pole-Cat on May 13, 2012 at 2:09 AM

Pole-Cat on May 13, 2012 at 2:09 AM

Pound this RULE into your pin-heads, if you learn nothing else here today kiddies.

BigSven on May 13, 2012 at 6:51 PM

What’s going to be more effective at putting the perp down, or at least getting him to hightail it out of the house? A few .38 slugs flying in his direction, or an impassioned plea of “I’m blind and defenseless. Please don’t take my stuff or hurt me.”?

Bruce MacMahon on May 13, 2012 at 9:55 AM

It’s a good thing the judge re-affirmed that this guy is a part of our society.

For a while there it looked like the prosecutor wanted to bully him into becoming a helpless patsy for all the neighborhood punks.

Hey, Mr DA! The producers of Law & Order are calling! Never mind. They just hung up.

rwenger43 on May 14, 2012 at 9:40 AM

This is Chris Christie’s New Jersey. So, why is that fat rhino so popular?

woodNfish on May 14, 2012 at 1:44 PM