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Should gun carry permits be issued to legally blind?

Staff Report • Sep 16, 2013 at 8:34 AM

The Des Moines Register reported last week that Iowa law allows the state to issue gun-carry permits to residents who are legally or completely blind. Officials there say state law does not allow sheriffs to deny an Iowan the right to carry a weapon based solely on physical ability.As Register reporter Jason Clayworth writes: “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.”The Register reports the exact number of visually impaired or blind people in Iowa who have been issued a gun-carry permit is not known because that information is not collected by the state or county sheriffs. While federal law does not expressively prohibit blind people from owning or carrying guns, some states (unlike Iowa) have laws that ban visually impaired people from obtaining guns. Nebraska is one of several states that require applicants for a gun-carry permit provide “proof of vision” by either presenting a valid driver’s license or a statement from an eye doctor. What are your thoughts on the topic? Should states be allowed to issue gun-carry permits to the legally blind?Send your comments to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717 Johnson City, TN 37605-1717, or mailbag@johnsoncitypress.com. Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification.We will print your responses on the Opinion pages in the coming weeks.

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