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Old 09-08-2013, 11:53 AM   #1
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Iowa grants permits for blind residents to carry guns in public
Written by Jason Clayworth
Sep. 8, 2013 |
desmoinesregister.com


Iowa grants permits for blind residents to carry guns in public
Sheriffs and advocates are divided on whether that's a good idea.

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Michael Barber examines a gun with his hands at Bass Pro Shop in Altoona last month. 'When you shoot a gun, you take it out and point and shoot, and I don't necessarily think eyesight is necessary,' said Barber, who is blind. / Andrea Melendez/The Register

When can sheriffs deny carry permits?
Iowa law lists a handful of circumstances when county sheriffs can deny citizens permits to carry weapons, but being visually disabled is not one of them. Sheriffs can deny permits if:• A person is less than 18 years of age for a professional permit or less than 21 years of age for a nonprofessional permit.• An applicant is addicted to the use of alcohol. (That generally means an individual cannot have alcohol-related offenses such as public intoxication or driving drunk for three years before obtaining a permit.)• Probable cause exists to believe, based upon documented specific actions of the person where at least one of the actions occurred within two years immediately preceding the date of the permit application, that the person is likely to use a weapon unlawfully or in another manner that would endanger the person or others.• The applicant has, within the previous three years, been convicted of any serious or aggravated misdemeanor defined in Chapter 708 of Iowa law not involving the use of a firearm or explosive.• The applicant is prohibited by federal law from shipping, transporting, possessing or receiving a firearm.• The applicant is subject to the provisions of Section 724.26 of Iowa law. These provisions include: (A) felony conviction; (B) a person who is an adjudicated delinquent in federal or state court on charges that, if committed by an adult, would constitute a felony; (C) a person subject to a protective order to restrain them from harassing, stalking or threatening an intimate partner or child of an intimate partner; (D) misdemeanor crime of domestic violence conviction.Sources: Iowa Department of Public Safety, Section 724.8 of Iowa law

AROUND THE U.S.: INCIDENTS WITH BLIND PEOPLE, GUN RIGHTS
While rare, there have been cases around the country in the past decade where blind people with guns have run into legal trouble.NEW JERSEY: Perhaps the most high-profile case involved blind New Jersey resident Steven Hopler. Police confiscated his guns five years ago following an incident in which he shot his own leg.Authorities cited not only that incident but a series of other situations that involved alcohol and guns. But since then, a judge has ruled that Hopler’s disability — alcoholism — does not disqualify him from his constitutional right to bear arms.KENTUCKY: In a 2005 case, Carolyn Ann Key was fined $100 and had to temporarily surrender her gun and permit after carrying a handgun into the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville. Key was unaware of signs that stated weapons were prohibited in the medical center.Kentucky laws don’t specifically restrict blind people from obtaining weapons permits but do require a person to take a test and hit a human-sized target at least 11 times out of 20 at a distance of 21 feet.Key said that an instructor led her into a booth and told her the target was in front of her. She could see light and shadows, and could make out the target’s silhouette enough to pass, according to a 2005 Associated Press report. Federal prosecutor McKay Chauvin said allowing blind people to obtain weapons permits made as much sense as giving the blind a license to drive. The law, however, was not changed.— Jason Clayworth




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. Advocates for the disabled and Iowa law enforcement officers disagree over whether it’s a good idea for visually disabled Iowans to have weapons.
On one side: People such as Cedar County Sheriff Warren Wethington, who demonstrated for the 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.
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.
“I’m not an expert in vision,” Delaware Sheriff John LeClere said. “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.”
One county sheriff shows how to train visually impaired
In one Iowa county, blind residents who want weapons would likely receive special training.
Wethington, the Cedar County sheriff, has a legally blind daughter who plans to obtain a permit to carry when she turns 21 in about two years. He demonstrated for the Register how he would train blind people who want to carry a gun.
“If sheriffs spent more time trying to keep guns out of criminals’ hands and not people with disabilities, their time would be more productive,” Wethington told the Register as he and his daughter took turns practice shooting with a semi-automatic handgun on private property in rural Cedar County.
The number of visually impaired or blind Iowans who can legally carry weapons in public is unknown because that information is not collected by the state or county sheriffs who issue the permits.
The Register became aware that a handful of Iowans with visual impairments can carry weapons in public because county sheriffs and their staffs recalled issuing those permits. Sheriff officials in most of the cases said they were uncertain about the extent of the visual impairments.
Clancy, superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, said the range of sight among people who are classified as legally blind varies greatly. He believes there are situations where such applicants can safely handle a gun.
However, he also expressed concerns.
“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.
It’s an issue that musician Stevie Wonder, who has been blind since birth, called attention to in January.
“Imagine me with a gun. It’s just crazy,” Wonder told CNN while calling for reforms to what he has previously called “ridiculous” gun laws.
Some states do consider vision in issuing permits
The Gun Control Act of 1968 and other federal laws do not prohibit blind people from owning guns. But unlike Iowa, some states have laws that spell out whether visually impaired people can obtain weapon permits.
Vision requirements are either directly or indirectly part of the weapon permit criteria in some surrounding 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 have indirect requirements that could — but don’t automatically — disqualify people who are blind. That includes Missouri and Minnesota, where applicants must complete a live fire test, which means they have to shoot and hit a target.
A 50-state database of gun permit requirements published by USACarry.com also shows that South Carolina has a law that requires proof of vision before a person is approved for a weapons permit.
Wisconsin, like Iowa, has no visual restrictions on gun permit applicants. Illinois lawmakers enacted a concealed weapons law in July, but permits have not yet been issued.
Illinois’ qualifications don’t specifically require a visual test, but applicants must complete firearms training that includes range instruction.
The National Federation of the Blind does not track states that require vision tests as part of weapon permit processes and has not taken an official stand on the issue. But its members are generally opposed to such laws, said Chris Danielsen, director of public relations for the group.
“There’s no reason solely on the (basis) of blindness that a blind person shouldn’t be allowed to carry a weapon,” Danielsen said. “Presumably they’re going to have enough sense not to use a weapon in a situation where they would endanger other people, just like we would expect other people to have that common sense.”
Iowa requires training for anyone who is issued a permit to carry a weapon in public, but that requirement can be satisfied through an online course that does not include any hands-on instruction or a shooting test.
A provision in Iowa’s law allows sheriffs to deny a permit if probable cause exists to believe that the person is likely to use the weapon in such a way that it would endanger himself or others.
Many sheriffs noted, however, that the provision relates to specific documented actions, and applicants who appealed their cases would likely win.
Vrotsos, the Dubuque County sheriff, did not know whether any blind people had applied for permits in his county, but said he wouldn’t hesitate to deny them.
“We do not track these applicants, but ... if I knew the person was blind ... a permit would not be issued, and this person would then have the right to appeal,” Vrotsos said.
But Hudson, executive director of Disability Rights Iowa, believes changing the state law to deny blind people or others with physical disabilities the right to carry arms would violate federal disability law.
Part of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires a public entity to conduct an individualized analysis to make a reasonable judgment before denying a service. Hudson believes someone could successfully challenge Nebraska’s proof of vision requirement as illegal.
“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.
Other issues cited by Iowa sheriffs
The Des Moines Register earlier this year published reports about Iowa’s 2011 law that requires sheriffs to adopt uniform standards in issuing permits to carry weapons in public. Read about issues cited by Iowa sheriffs, such as gaps in their ability to search a person’s background for mental health problems and their inability to deny permits to sex offenders. Find complete coverage at DesMoinesRegister.com/gunpermits.




http://www.desmoinesregister.com/art...sey=nav%7Chead
 
Old 09-09-2013, 11:24 AM   #3
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This was on the radio this morning near me and the more I think about it, the more I have mixed feeling about it. There can be a big difference between being truely blind and 'legally' blind. One can be legally blind and see well enough to safely and effectively operate a firearm in my opinion. Also, even if someone is truely blind, say they live alone, I don't necessarily disagree with them having a firearm. Just because they're blind doesn't mean they're just going to pull the gun at any moment and start blasting away and, if they do, they would be subject to the same consequences as someone who can see perfectly. On the other hand, it's hard to make the argument that someone who can't see should have a firearm, that argument is pretty much self explanatory.
 
Old 09-09-2013, 02:20 PM   #4
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Interesting.

On one hand, I'm on the side of eligible citizens being able to carry a firearm legally.

On the other, I'm wondering how fast the state will switch positions once someone is shot by a blind person. Seems like a lot of ground for litigation in there for knowingly granting a permit to a blind person.

 
Old 09-09-2013, 02:23 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lost_Humanity View Post
Interesting.

On one hand, I'm on the side of eligible citizens being able to carry a firearm legally.

On the other, I'm wondering how fast the state will switch positions once someone is shot by a blind person. Seems like a lot of ground for litigation in there for knowingly granting a permit to a blind person.

Should people with down's syndrome be allowed to exercise their right to bear arms? How is this different? Shouldn't they be allowed to drive too?
 
Old 09-09-2013, 02:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ostrichsak View Post
Should people with down's syndrome be allowed to exercise their right to bear arms? How is this different? Shouldn't they be allowed to drive too?
Blind people still have rational decision-making ability, that is certainly not the same argument at all. I don't know how Iowa works but what if a blind person were issued a restricted license where they could only have the gun in their home? Read my argument above, someone could be deemed legally blind, preventing them from holding a license but still be able to operate a firearm. You don't need perfect vision to protect yourself in your home. Hell, if someone broke into your house in the middle of the night, you'd be shooting at a sihlouette and wouldn't have perfect vision.
 
Old 09-09-2013, 02:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pugga View Post
Blind people still have rational decision-making ability, that is certainly not the same argument at all. I don't know how Iowa works but what if a blind person were issued a restricted license where they could only have the gun in their home? Read my argument above, someone could be deemed legally blind, preventing them from holding a license but still be able to operate a firearm. You don't need perfect vision to protect yourself in your home. Hell, if someone broke into your house in the middle of the night, you'd be shooting at a sihlouette and wouldn't have perfect vision.
Because they can rationalize what does it matter if the information they are rationalizing is incorrect or non-existent? The idea that nobody that lives around them would be in danger just because they're at home or shooting at an unidentified silhouette are acceptable is just wrong and dangerous.
 
Old 09-09-2013, 02:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ostrichsak View Post
Should people with down's syndrome be allowed to exercise their right to bear arms? How is this different? Shouldn't they be allowed to drive too?
Blindness is a physical disability, not a mental/developmental one. One can make the reasonable assumption that a blind person can make the educated decision on whether or not to use a firearm. Same cannot be said for a person afflicted with Downs Syndrome.

Counterpoint: one of the basic safety rules of operating a firearm is knowing not just your target but what is behind your target. While the target itself might be easy to discern, the backdrop would not be for a blind person.

I'd like to see the NRA's take on this, since it seems to fly in the face of their Gun Safety Rules. http://training.nra.org/nra-gun-safety-rules.aspx

Quote:
When using or storing a gun, always follow these NRA rules:

Know your target and what is beyond.
Be absolutely sure you have identified your target beyond any doubt. Equally important, be aware of the area beyond your target. This means observing your prospective area of fire before you shoot. Never fire in a direction in which there are people or any other potential for mishap. Think first. Shoot second.
 
Old 09-09-2013, 02:42 PM   #9
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so basically

a)http://www.tacomaworld.com/forum/gun...-reminder.html

b)My girlfriend is legally blind without corrective lenses, but still managed to survive a trip to Iraq and qualify Marksman with a pistol and Expert with an M4 every time she has qualified
 
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