Blind faith: Iowa grants gun permits to the visually impaired
Amendment rights due to physical disabilities would be illegal.
“When you shoot a gun, you take it out and point and shoot,
and I don’t necessarily think eyesight is necessary,”
president of the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa told
the Des Moines Register.
“If someone is attacking me, I’m going to be able to hear what they’re doing, and if I need to use the weapon, I’ll use the weapon,” Michael Barber added.
Iowa County, blind residents who want to get hold of weapons
would receive special training. Sheriffs in several Iowa
counties, such as Jasper, Kossuth and Delaware, have reportedly
granted permits to residents with serious visual impairments.
“I’m not an expert in vision,” Delaware Sheriff John
LeClere told The Register. “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.”
The National Federation of the Blind is not in favor of laws that require vision tests as part of weapon permit processes.
“There’s no reason solely on the [basis] of blindness that a
blind person shouldn’t be allowed to carry a weapon,” the
director of public relations for the group told the Iowa
newspaper. “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,” Chris Danielsen added.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 and other federal laws do not
prohibit blind people from owning guns. However, each US state
has different rules governing gun permits, stating whether
visually impaired people can obtain weapon permits. For instance,
Nebraska and South Carolina require applicants for gun permits to
show "proof of vision" presenting a valid state driver’s license
or a statement from an optician.
In Missouri and Minnesota, applicants must complete a live fire test where they have to shoot and hit a target, while Wisconsin, like Iowa, has no visual restrictions on gun permit applicants.
In Texas, the legally blind are allowed to hunt, accompanied by a
sighted partner, using laser sighting devices.
Last year, a blind New Jersey man won a legal battle to keep and
shoot his guns. Steven Hopler had his firearms confiscated after
shooting himself in the leg. The 49-year-old man insisted he
could safely handle guns since and had done so since he was a
child. He said he had experience of shooting as a sighted and
non-sighted person, having lost his sight 20 years before as a
result of diabetes. Police first seized his gun collection in
2008. However, several years later a judge ordered that the
decision went against the blind man’s constitutional right to