Gun Permits given to Blind in Iowa


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Blind Iowa residents are not able to get a driver's license, but can they carry a gun? Sure. Des Moines Register reports Iowa is allowing people who are legally blind permits that will allow them to carry firearms in public, as well as purchase guns.

Seems strange, but the permits are legal, as Iowa law does not deny anyone the right to carry a weapon based on physical disability due to changes in gun permit laws 2011. Law enforcement officials are concerned for trying to maintain public safety.

Sheriffs in Jasper, Kossuth and Delaware counties said they've granted permits to residents with severe visual impairments. Sheriffs in Polk County said they have issued weapon permits at least three times to people who cannot drive legally. Though, there's no way to know exactly how many people have obtained permits who have visual impairments, because no one collects that information.

"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.

Delaware County Sheriff John LeClere questions the ability to safely handle a firearm visually impaired. "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 advocates for the disabled are in a dilemma over the decision. But some argue that blocking anyone who is impaired from obtaining a weapons permit would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The previous law did allow for the visually impaired to own guns or hunt, but not carry them in public.

Other states do prohibit based on visual abilities. Nebraska and South Carolina applicants must show "proof of vision" via drivers license or a doctor's note. Minnesota and Missouri applicants must complete a firing test and require them to hit a target.

Illinois doesn't require a visual test, but does require applicants to complete firearm training and range instruction.

The new law in Illinois went into effect in July, but the permits have not been issued yet.

Main Article Image: Cedar County Sheriff shooting with his daughter, who is legally blind.
Image Courtesy Des Moines Register