Iowa Grants Gun Permits To The Blind

So, this one has me confused:

The Des Moines Register reports that Iowa law doesn’t allow sheriffs to deny a permit to carry a gun in public based on physical ability.

Some sheriffs have been granting gun permits to people with visual impairments while others have been denying them. Blind people and other Iowans can obtain the permits for carrying a weapon in public because of changes to state law that took effect in 2011.

Jane Hudson with Disability Rights Iowa said keeping legally blind people from obtaining weapon permits would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Some other states, including Nebraska, require anyone applying for a gun permit to provide proof of their visual ability by supplying a driver’s license or doctor’s statement.

Hudson said she thinks someone could successfully challenge Nebraska’s vision restriction because federal law requires states to analyze a situation individually before denying a service.

“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.

(…)

It’s not clear how many people with visual impairments have permits to carry weapons in Iowa because no one collects that information.

Delaware County Sheriff John LeClere questioned whether visually-impaired people should be able to obtain these weapons permits.

“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,” LeClere said.

Even Patrick Clancy, superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, said guns may be a rare exception to his philosophy.

“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,” Clancy said.

I suppose it depends on how the law is complied with. Meeting a legal definition of blindness or other disability doesn’t necessarily mean one is incapable of handling a firearm. However, at the same time, I can’t imagine what the objection would be to assuring that someone who, say, is barred from driving because of their sight, has the visual acuity to safely operate a firearm.

FILED UNDER: Guns and Gun Control, Law and the Courts, Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    Jane Hudson with Disability Rights Iowa said keeping legally blind people from obtaining weapon permits would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    “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.

    Also, as Jane failed to note, the Second Amendment says nothing about well-regulated people with disabilities, or blind people.

    This country is so dumbed down right now. On the other hand, what a great time to be writing comedy, it practically writes itself.

  2. Lit3Bolt says:

    Now I know there are people in Iowa dumb enough to worry that blind peoples’ 2nd Amendment rights are being violated.

    What’s next? Blind pilots? Policemen? Generals? Astronauts? Ballistic missile operators?

  3. legion says:

    How exactly can the ADA be construed to require local governments to create a clear and present danger to public safety? I would think there might be at least one sane police chief who’d say “Screw that. Take me to court and put your name on the legal argument letting a blind guy have a gun is takes precedence literally every other citizen’s right to safety”.

  4. James Pearce says:

    Why not? Outlaw guns for the blind and we’ll just have blind criminals running around. Besides, guns don’t kill people….and blind people with guns don’t either.

  5. Franklin says:

    Reminds me of the blind golfers who should just play at night anyways.

  6. wr says:

    If you’re blind, how can you be sure you’re shooting the black guy?

  7. I can’t imagine what the objection would be to assuring that someone who, say, is barred from driving because of their sight, has the visual acuity to safely operate a firearm.

    Because, as one article about this pointed out, thanks to the Supreme Court you have an individualized constitution right to “bear” a firearm, but driving is only considered a privilege.

  8. JKB says:

    Well, they are put at a disadvantage by the banning of sawed-off shotguns without federal tax license.

  9. rudderpedals says:

    Obviously the founders provided for the emergent needs of state militias to call up everyone from the bedridden to the blind to the criminally insane else they would have more clearly drafted the passage to prevent misunderstandings.

  10. Vast Variety says:

    I think that just like a driver’s license where you have a driving test; to get a weapons permit you should have to pass a firearms test which includes being able to shoot a target at a reasonable range.

  11. Ernieyeball says:

    It has been demonstrated that Citizen Florack thinks victims of shooters who kill innocent folks with bullets shot from guns are to blame for their own deaths since they don’t pack the heat.

    Eric Florack says:
    Saturday, July 21, 2012 at 10:56
    Those people who got shot, those who died…were dependent on the falicy that the job of protecting them was the government’s…(they were)…sheep…

    https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/14-dead-at-least-50-wounded-in-mass-shooting-at-colorado-movie-theater/

    He has also stated that “I want ALL adults working in such places armed.”
    (Saturday, July, 27 2013 at 14:16)

    Not certain from the context if he means schools or movie theaters but I think he wants all pale citizens armed all the time.

    Don’t know if he lives in Iowa but he might want to move there as the Hawkeye State seems to be advancing his agenda.

  12. Ernieyeball says:

    @Vast Variety: “…you should have to pass a firearms test…”

    …the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    I suspect that any test would be challenged as an infringement.

    (infringement: the action of limiting or undermining something)

  13. gVOR08 says:

    @rudderpedals: I should have thought “well regulated” might be construed to allow exemption of the blind and infirm. Oh wait, I’m sorry. I forgot that the Roberts court can’t seem to fit “well regulated militia” into their understanding of the second amendment, so they’re pretending that part never existed.

  14. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Well.

    I can’t imagine any way that THIS could go wrong.

    Good luck with that, Iowa!

    (Open disclaimer: Former Detroiter, currently lives in an open-carry state, never felt the need to own a gun. Still don’t. Second Amendment freaks are fun!)

  15. Dave D says:

    As a current resident of the fair state of Iowa, I found this amazingly absurd. However, if we put this into context it isn’t all that bad. I mean check out this other article about the sex offenders we let carry concealed weapons. I mean those blind people are just protecting themselves from the gun carrying sex offenders.
    http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20130505/NEWS01/305050072/1001/news/Register-Exclusive-50-sex-offenders-gun-permits

  16. Matt says:

    I’d like to point out that I’m not able to legally drive without vision correction yet I have no issue seeing a hog in underbrush 200 yards away…

    I know people who are legally blind that see quite fine. Certainly well enough to identify something at 50 yards.

    Legally blind is 20/200 vision which leaves a lot of room for potential corrective measures.

    So what we have here is a problem with the outrage squad who don’t understand what they are talking about….

  17. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Matt: One correction in your definition–add “uncorrected” or “uncorrectable” and it is more accurate. When I don’t wear my glasses (20/250 in one eye, 20/195 in the other) I literally can’t see well enough to cross the street if it is more than one lane wide (can’t see the on coming traffic in the far side lanes–at all). I’m not considered legally blind because my vision is correctable. Without glasses, I am not permitted to drive because…I’m blind (without them).

  18. Matt says:

    @Just ‘nutha’ ig’rant cracker: I’ve known a few people who are declared legally blind (ADA and all) yet they could see well enough to identify people at 20 yard or so. Frankly it’s hard hitting a human sized target with a handgun past 30 yards…

    Now of course I know one older gentleman who is legally blind and quite unable to tell people apart at any sort of distance 🙁 He certainly should not be using firearms without a great deal of assistance.

  19. Socrates says:

    I’d just like to say that wr’s comment at 14:02 is genius.

  20. wr says:

    @Socrates: Thank you!

  21. bill says:

    @wr: are there that many blind black guys seeking permits? 90+ % of blacks are shot by blacks, nice try at race baiting!

    and remember, we have yo have braille on the drive through atm’s for some reason.
    “legally” blind doesn’t mean you can’t see anything……duh. .