The blind arming the blind

The blind arming the blind
The blind arming the blind
Associated Press

Earlier in the year, when the debate over gun safety was still a dominant issue on the national stage, musician Stevie Wonder suggested he might try to buy a gun just to help demonstrate the ways in which current laws defy common sense. “Imagine me with a gun,” Wonder said. “It’s just crazy.

In Iowa, there’s apparently some disagreement on just how crazy this would be.

Here’s some news that has law enforcement officials and lawmakers scratching their heads: Iowa is granting permits to acquire or carry guns in public to people who are legally or completely blind.

No one questions the legality of the permits. State law does not allow sheriffs to deny an Iowan the right to carry a weapon based on physical ability.

The quandary centers squarely on public safety.

Ya don’t say.

The Des Moines Register’s report noted quite a few folks in Iowa, including county sheriffs, who argued that there’s no reason to discriminate against the blind if Iowans with visual impairments want weapons permits and firearms.

In practical terms, it creates a curious policy landscape: if you’re legally blind in Iowa, the state will prohibit you from getting a driver’s license and getting behind the wheel. The state will not, however, stop you from buying a loaded assault rifle and carrying a handgun.

This is not, incidentally, an academic exercise about hypothetical scenarios. There are actually Iowans who are too blind to drive but who are nevertheless getting gun permits.

From the DMR piece:

Private gun ownership – even hunting – by visually impaired Iowans is nothing new. But 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.

“It seems a little strange, but the way the law reads, we can’t deny them (a permit) just based on that one thing,” said Sgt. Jana Abens, a spokeswoman for the Polk County sheriff’s office, referring to a visual disability.

Polk County officials 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.

And sheriffs in three other counties – Jasper, Kossuth and Delaware – say they have granted permits to residents who they believe have severe visual impairments.

For rhetorical purposes, this should help crystalize the debate a bit further. We’ve reached the point at which opponents of gun reforms not only oppose background checks and support allowing suspected terrorists to buy an arsenal, they’re also ready to quite literally arm the blind.

This will not end well.


The blind arming the blind