In a move sure to leave gun safety advocates scratching their heads, Iowa is issuing gun permits to the blind.
The permits allow legally blind applicants to purchase weapons and carry them in public. Per state law, any attempt to deny an Iowan these rights based on physical ability would be illegal, reports the Des Moines Register.
“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 Register at a gun store in Iowa last month.
The issue has also vexed local sheriffs — the authorities tasked with reviewing applications — with some in full support of the measure, and others against.
Explains Delaware County Sheriff John LeClere, “If you see nothing but a blurry mass in front of you, then I would say you probably shouldn’t be shooting something.”
Counters Cedar County Sheriff Warren Wethington, who has a legally blind daughter, “If sheriffs spent more time trying to keep guns out of criminals’ hands and not people with disabilities, their time would be more productive.”
Iowans have always been able to carry a firearm in private, but a new law passed in 2011 extends that right to the public sphere while placing no limits on physical ability.
Federal law, in tandem with the Gun Control Act of 1968, also does nothing to limit the legally blind from owning a gun, leaving that issue for states to sort out individually. Kansas, for instance, altered their laws in 2010 to prohibit issuing concealed carry permits to anyone “suffering a physical infirmity which prevents the safe handling of a weapon.”
In January of this year, shortly after the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting, blind singer Stevie Wonder offered his thoughts on gun control in an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan. “Imagine me with a gun,” he said. “It’s just crazy.”