“When you shoot a gun, you take it out and point and shoot, and I don’t necessarily think eyesight is necessary,” said Michael Barber, a blind man interviewed by The Des Moines Register at a gun store in Iowa last month.
I had to read this statement twice to make sure I had really understood it correctly.
Apparently, however, the state of Iowa agrees with Barber and is now issuing permits that allow legally blind people to purchase guns and carry them in public. Per state law, it’s illegal to deny an Iowan these rights based on physical ability.
Equal rights does not mean that blind people should be carrying guns, any more than they should be allowed to be pilots, surgeons, hairdressers, NASCAR drivers or any kind of drivers at all.
The practice of visually impaired residents legally carrying firearms in public became widely possible thanks to gun permit changes that took effect in Iowa in 2011.
Really? How can there be an argument over whether or not blind people should be permitted to carry guns?
USA Today explains:
On one side: People such as Cedar County Sheriff Warren Wethington, who demonstrated for The Des Moines Register how blind people can be taught to shoot guns. And Jane Hudson, executive director of Disability Rights Iowa, who says blocking visually impaired people from the right to obtain weapon permits would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. That federal law generally prohibits different treatment based on disabilities
On the other side: People such as Dubuque County Sheriff Don Vrotsos, who said he wouldn’t issue a permit to someone who is blind. And Patrick Clancy, superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, who says guns may be a rare exception to his philosophy that blind people can participate fully in life.”
We’re not talking about legal rights here; we’re talking about safety. No person who cannot see clearly should be holding a gun and shooting, for their own safety and the safety of everyone around them.
Astoundingly, officials in Iowa’s Polk County say they’ve issued weapons permits to at least three people who can’t legally drive and were unable to read the application forms or had difficulty doing so because of visual impairments.
Sheriffs in three other Iowa counties have also granted permits to residents who they believe have severe visual impairments.
Iowa is not the only state to allow legally blind people to carry guns. However, while Iowa has no visual restrictions on gun permit applications, the same is not true in other states. In Nebraska, for example, applicants for a permit to carry a concealed handgun must provide “proof of vision” by either presenting a valid state driver’s license or a statement by an eye doctor that the person meets vision requirements set for a typical vehicle operator’s license.
Other states also allow the visually impaired to carry guns, but there are certain requirements that could disqualify people who are blind. In Missouri and Minnesota, applicants must complete a live fire test, which means they have to shoot and hit a target.
As an immigrant to the United States, I find the obsession with the right to own a gun bewildering and scary. To provide this right to legally blind people is lunacy, as well as potentially disastrous.
In 2010 in the U.S., 606 people died from an unintentional shooting.
In 2011, 14,675 people were wounded in an unintentional shooting, but survived.
How much are these numbers likely to grow if people who are legally blind are permitted to own guns?
CNN’s Piers Morgan reports: “I interviewed Stevie Wonder. He said ‘can you imagine I’m allowed to go and buy guns. Can you imagine me with a gun?’ It is utterly ridiculous.”
Well said, Stevie.
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