Iowa To Issue Gun Permits To The Blind

100px-Long_cane220px-Mamba_(pistol)There is a controversy in Iowa where the state has started a program to issue permits to carry guns in public to people who are legally blind. This includes people who are completely blind. Disability advocates insist that any denial of a permit for a gun to a blind person would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

State officials insist that state law does not allow them to deny an Iowan the right to carry a weapon based on physical ability. While Iowa’s law allows sheriffs to deny a permit if probable cause exists to believe that the person is likely to use the weapon in such a way that it would endanger himself or others, the provision is not viewed as applying to a danger related to a physical disability.

Jane Hudson, executive director of Disability Rights Iowa, insists that the denial of such permits would be discrimination and that blind people cannot be treated any differently than those who can see in the carrying of weapons. Some sheriffs like Dubuque County Sheriff Don Vrotsos, however, are refusing to issue the permits out of concern for public safety.

In Polk county, the sheriff has issued permits to carry guns in public to at least three people who cannot get licenses to drive cars due to their lack of sight.

Recently, Stevie Wonder, the famous blind musician, called out the practice and said “Imagine me with a gun. It’s just crazy.”

Some states require proof of vision for permits, which seems eminently reasonable. While I am a great supporter of the ADA, it seems that like driving, reasonable limits can be imposed on physical disabilities.

Yet, Chris Danielsen, director of public relations for the National Federation of the Blind, insists that “[t]here’s no reason solely on the (basis) of blindness that a blind person shouldn’t be allowed to carry a weapon . . . Presumably they’re going to have enough sense not to use a weapon in a situation where they would endanger other people, just like we would expect other people to have that common sense.”

Many sheriffs noted, however, that the provision relates to specific documented actions, and applicants who appealed their cases would likely win.

Vrotsos, the Dubuque County sheriff, did not know whether any blind people had applied for permits in his county, but said he wouldn’t hesitate to deny them.

“We do not track these applicants, but … if I knew the person was blind … a permit would not be issued, and this person would then have the right to appeal,” Vrotsos said.

But Hudson, executive director of Disability Rights Iowa, believes changing the state law to deny blind people or others with physical disabilities the right to carry arms would violate federal disability law.

Part of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires a public entity to conduct an individualized analysis to make a reasonable judgment before denying a service. Hudson believes someone could successfully challenge Nebraska’s proof of vision requirement as illegal.

“The fact that you can’t drive a car doesn’t mean you can’t go to a shooting range and see a target,” Hudson said.

Source: USA Today

38 thoughts on “Iowa To Issue Gun Permits To The Blind”

  1. Damn, I want that cane gun. I’d be da man around town — until I accidentally blew my ear into the next county.
    But really, as a blind person, I don’t think I should be prohibited from having a firearm in my domicile if I want one and can demonstrate some amount of proficiency.
    I think everyone should be held to that same standard.
    Conceal/carry is something else entirely.

  2. And there you have it … total insanity under the law.

    The nullification trend in recent years has largely focused on three areas: gun control, health care and national standards for driver’s licenses. In fact, pre-emptive nullification laws in many states wipes out any federal law that may exist in the future that a state determines violates gun rights.

    Cane guns could become the newest fad and money maker. The NRA should get to work on that pesky Federal prohibition.

  3. Unless the local jurisdiction specifically requires a firearms proficiency requirement (and I have my doubts about even the constitutionality of this) the state does not have standing to deny a pistol license to a person on account of blindness.

    The carrying or bearing of an arm that is legal for the general public must also be legal to possess by a person who is blind. It is not illegal for a blind person to possess a firearm in their dwelling. I have never heard of a law that makes it a crime for a person who is blind to own a firearm in their home per se.

    If the constitution states that the possession of a firearm is an individual right, just like the right to vote or petition the government for redress of grievances (and there are no qualifications required to do this such as an English proficiency requirement) I don’t see how this is treated any differently.

    Some have brought up the driving issue. First, there is no constititutional right to drive a motor vehicle. Second, even if a driver was suspended on his / her driver’s license it is not illegal for them to possess a motor vehicle.

    The gun permit regulates possession of the firearm on one’s person and / or concealed. it does not regulate whether or not a person can shoot it with proficiency. In otherwords it is a license to possess not shoot.

  4. Blouise:

    Other than antique cane guns that are exempt under the national firearms act, (relics, curios) they are illegal for a private person to possess under federal law.

  5. Just the fact that the blind may leagaly be armed is a deterrent to the criminals that pay attention to the news and would think twice about attacking a blind person knowing their is a chance they may be armed. Just the thought that someone may be armed is enough. As was the town laws in Georga requiring heads of households to posses a firearm, a law that was never going to be enforced. But the criminals didn’t know that…until anti gun advocates challenged the law and had it reversed.

    What fools these mortals be…

  6. From my POV, however silly and obvious the point of this article and event, the real meaning is below the surface. That being yet another example of the ossifying legalism that has been infiltrating our ostensible “justice” system, and our society, so that we are enthrall to a sort of stupid congruity that subjugates the function of wisdom. Or in terms of this blog… Justice.
    Nearly every post in this blog is an example of this toxic syndrome, but it takes something this absurd to make it visible in primary colors.

    Examples like this require the society (in the form of the legislatures) to account for every possible permutation. Rather than being governed by principles we are governed by sentences. And when the sentence is not explicitly laid down, common sense, or “wisdom” is no defense against the foolishness and mischief that follows.

    Tacitus, a Roman Historian, wrote “That state is most corrupt whose laws are most numerous”. And so it is. When a society requires that every possible foolishness be accounted for in its legal code it must multiply legalistic notions of the law… And the law becomes not a servant but a master of the society.

    And when citizens can no longer simply live lives of common sense but are subject to the whimsey of laws that are structurally unjust and foolish… Not unlike our times… the tipping point is close at hand…
    Or… maybe has already happened.

  7. If they can pass a full gun safety test and put the rounds in the ten ring I don’t care.

  8. As a point of common sense I don’t see how visual acuity would not be a consideration for use of a fire arm.

    Nevertheless, the quality of sight necessary to use a fire arm effectively is likely much less than require to safely drive an automobile.

  9. Excuse me but I think this is insane. It puts other people at risk; it should not be allowed. You would think that Advocates for the Disabled would have plenty of other issues to deal with but I’lll bet a good contribution from the NRA moved this forward!

  10. This is what happens when people who know nothing about a subject are allowed to make laws – I mean the ignorant are the politicians and legislators. CF NY banning all gun magazines except 7 round versions WHICH DO NOT EXIST 🙂 Oh and they forgot to exempt cops

  11. This sounds like a really good opportunity for someone to get disarmed and shot with their own weapon and/or accidental shootings of bystanders. Contrary to myth, even though blind people can experience heightening of their other senses like hearing, they are not Daredevil.

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