Bachelor of University Studies, North Dakota State University, 1997. Master of Arts in Mass Commission, North Dakota State University, 2001.
He gained worldwide fame in 2001, when he became the first blind person to acquire a concealed weapons permit to allow him to carry a firearm for self-defense. Soon after, the documentary Bowling for Columbine featured him. His blindness, caused by a late-blooming birth defect that failed to appear at birth, occurred at age ten.
Despite complete blindness, at age 14, McWilliams joined the Civil Air Patrol, where he had the opportunity to copilot many small aircraft and tour an active ICBM launch facility at Whitman Air Force Base, Missouri.
lieutenant was through the cadet program that he learned to disassemble, clean, reassemble and fire his first gun, the M16. In 2005, he became a figure in the National Gun Debate when he publicly opposed a move by his home state’s legislature to remove the shooting portion of the CCW permit, stating that such allowed the carrying of loaded firearms by individuals who may have no knowledge of safe gun operation.
Despite opposition from many sides of the issue, in 2007, he pursued other state’s carry permits, obtaining a second CCW from the state of Utah, allowing him to carry a firearm in most of the United States with reciprocity. After over a decade, he still carries a loaded firearm in public for self-defense.
McWilliams married singer and minister Victoria Rice from Moorhead, Minnesota, on May 25, 2004 in Germany.
Rice has cerebral palsy. In 2008, McWilliams became an avid outdoorsman, hooking sharks and tarpon, while hunting deer and elk by rifle, shotgun, and crossbow. even Savage Arms Chief Executive Officer, Ron Coburn, marveled at a 156-yard shot McWilliams made on an antelope from a standing vehicle. His wing shooting of ducks, doves, and pheasants also earned him a place in the history books as the first case of a totally blind hunter downing a variety of birds in flight.
On August 16, 2011, McWilliams made a different kind of history by traveling to the Florida Everglades, harvesting by 44-magnum bangstick an over 11-foot, estimated between quarter-ton and half-ton bull alligator.
Standing on the mud between two gators of about equal length, he killed his gator at a frightening range of six inches during this night hunt on shore. After obtaining the legal rights to his new title of World’s First Totally Blind Alligator Hunter, he took a second major predator in a possible Boon and Crocket, around 300-pound Idaho black bear at ground level on May 31, 2012, at 60 yards with his personal 30.06 bolt-action rifle.
Adding Totally Blind Bear Hunter to the list, McWilliams continues hunting dangerous game, while promoting the outdoors to the disabled through his website.
Member cadet advisory council Civil Air Patrol, Fargo, 1987—1990. Member of National Honor Society (Golden Key Honor Society since 1996).