Iowa is granting gun carry permits to people who are legally blind or completely blind that will allow them to display, and use if necessary, the guns in public places.
According to the Des Moines Register
, the issue has become the subject of debate between disability rights advocates and law enforcement officials about its impact on public safety.
Iowa state law does not allow sheriffs to deny an Iowan the right to carry a weapon based on physical ability, and the Gun Control Act of 1968 and other federal laws do not prohibit blind people from owning guns. Unlike Iowa, however, some states have a variety of vision requirements as a prerequisite to obtaining a permit.
Though the visually impaired have long had the right to private gun ownership in Iowa, changes in gun permit laws in 2011 have opened the door to allowing the visually impaired to legally carry firearms in public.
Delaware Sheriff John LeClere questions the wisdom of the law. "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."
Patrick Clancy, superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School also expressed concerns. "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."
But Chris Danielsen, director of public relations for the National Federation of the Blind, disagrees. "There'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," he told the Register.
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