In Iowa, the completely or legally blind can now acquire permits to carry guns in public. Legally, state laws do not allow sheriffs to refuse the right to carry a weapon based on any form of physical disability.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Jana Abens had this to say:
It seems a little strange, but the way the law reads, we can’t deny them just based on that one thing.
This of course led to debate and concerns about public safety.
Delaware County Sheriff John LeClere has granted permits to people who had severe visual impairment before, but he questions if the completely blind should be able to carry:
I’m not an expert in vision, but at what point do vision problems have a detrimental effect to fire a firearm? If you see nothing but a blurry mass in front of you, then I would say you probably shouldn’t be shooting something.
Warren Wethington, the Cedar County Sheriff who has a legally blind daughter who plans on getting a permit when she turns 21, feels the blind can be taught to shoot guns like anybody else and has demonstrated how he would train a blind gun owner. He also believes the sheriffs should focus more on crime.
“If sheriffs spent more time trying to keep guns out of criminals’ hands and not people with disabilities, their time would be more productive”, says Wethington, as the sheriff and his daughter take turns firing practice rounds.
Patrick Clancy of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School said there are many levels of what is defined as “legally blind”, but he also expressed his concerns with this law:
Although people who are blind can participate fully in nearly all life’s experiences, there are some things, like the operation of a weapon, that may very well be an exception.
In the video below, a blind man named Michael Barber and his wife Kim go gun shopping. Both have already passed a safety course and have the proper certification.
“If I needed to fire this, I can hear where people are, so I just simply point and shoot”, said Michael as he checked out a gun he was set to purchase for practicing at a shooting range.
Kim felt there are a lot of people she would be less comfortable with having a gun than her husband.