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In Iowa, Gun Permits for the Blind Seen as OK Under the Law

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on September 09, 2013 2:03 PM

Thanks to the way Iowa's gun laws are written, the Hawkeye State is seeing a strange and controversial result: Iowa officials are issuing gun permits to blind people.

Iowa, like all other states in the nation, allow the carrying of certain concealed firearms in public with a proper state-issued permit. And Iowa law seems to agree with visually impaired Iowans like Michael Barber, who told the Des Moines Register he doesn't believe "eyesight is necessary" to properly firing a gun.

Is it really legal to allow those who can't see the right to carry around a firearm?

Iowa's Concealed Carry Law

Passed in 2010, Iowa's SF 2379 provided that starting in 2011, Iowans who meet the law's training requirements and apply for a permit, with some exceptions, must be issued a license to carry a concealed firearm.

That includes blind individuals like Barber, who may literally not be able to hit the broad side of a barn with a firearm.

On the other hand, one Iowa sheriff insisted that "blind people can be taught to shoot guns," which may explain why at least four Iowa counties have issued permits to visually impaired citizens, reports the Des Moines Register.

Each state can legally promote its own gun regulations restricting public gun possession. Like many other states, Iowa does prohibit felons, minors, and drug addicts from obtaining gun permits -- just not the blind.

Discrimination Against the Blind?

While many Iowans worry about issuing permits to those persons who cannot even obtain a driver's license due to their impairments, the executive director of Disability Rights Iowa told the Register that denying these gun permits might violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA and most state public accommodation laws prevent discrimination against an individual based on a recognized disability, like blindness.

However, some states like Nebraska and South Carolina require "proof of vision" to be presented before issuing any person a concealed carry permit, reports the Register.

In January, in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut, blind performer Stevie Wonder spoke openly about the idea of persons with similar impairments owning and carrying guns. Wonder called the idea "just crazy," reports The Huffington Post.

Crazy or not, it appears blind Iowans may legally be able to pack both a cane and heat.

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