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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

In January, Stevie Wonder considered buying a gun to illustrate the inanity of America’s gun reform debate.

“Imagine me with a gun,” the blind musician said at the time. “It’s crazy.”

Apparently, it’s not too crazy for Iowa. The Hawkeye State has been granting permits to acquire or carry guns in public to people who are legally or completely blind, the Des Moines Register reports.

“It seems a little strange, but the way the law reads, we can’t deny them (a permit) just based on that one thing,” Sgt. Jana Abens, a spokeswoman for the Polk County sheriff’s office, told the Register. Polk County officials added that 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 becaue of visual impairments.”

Under Iowa state law, sheriffs cannot deny an individual the right to carry a gun based on physical disability; additionally, preventing the blind from obtaining weapons permits could violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. Still, allowing someone with a visual impairment to carry a weapon in public creates an obvious public health concern.

“I’m not an expert in vision,” Delaware County Sheriff John LeClere told the Register. “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.”

That argument is not persuasive to Cedar County Sheriff Warren Wethington, who told the paper that trying to limit gun rights for the blind was a waste of time.

“If sheriffs spent more time trying to keep guns out of criminals’ hands and not people with disabilities, their time would be more productive,” he said.

The debate over arming the blind illustrates just how little progress gun reform efforts have made since Congress killed the Manchin-Toomey amendment in April. Iowa has gone from arguing over expanding gun sale background checks — a proposal which is supported by 75 percent of Iowans, according to a recent poll — to arguing about whether those whose vision is too impaired to drive a car should be allowed to carry a gun. If there really is a massive liberal conspiracy to eradicate Americans’ Second Amendment rights, it clearly isn’t very effective.

Photo: JimmyWayne via

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Copyright 2013 The National Memo
  • Sand_Cat

    Yes, there are very large numbers of blind people, and most of them don’t have bad eyes.

    • Eleanore Whitaker

      Huh? What then does “blind” mean? That you just need glasses? Wow! Some people in this country need to demand their red states stop teaching the kinds of education that make them appear to be straight out of Neanderthal caves.

      • CooofNJ

        I think you read sand cat wrong. I believe the reference was not to physical blindness but moral/mental/political blindness.

        • Eleanore Whitaker

          I didn’t pick up the double meaning. Look. No matter how others try to bully the masses, it’s not EVER going to work. I have a mind of my own. I was raised properly. I don’t need to be reinvented to fit some backward culture of the antebellum confederacy days. But, let’s face it. The midwestern, western and southern states are beginning to make the US look like the laughing stock of the world with their peculiarities they call “culture.” Lil Abner and Daisy Mae’s DogPatch isn’t a culture. It’s “Ignernce.” There may be excuses for ignorance in remote parts of the world…But at the price of education in the US today, these yahoos of DogPatch have zero excuses for such bizarre ignorance. Ignorance is detestable when there isn’t a valid excuse for it.

          • Ford Truck

            You say “The midwestern, western and southern states are beginning to make the US look like the laughing stock of the world..” So are you telling me New York, and California are the last bastions of forward thinking intelligence? If so, I’ve got news for you!!!

          • Eleanore Whitaker

            Yep…That’s what I said and I stand by what I said. NY, CA and the blue states are not anti-woman. They are not nearly as racist and they pay salaries far higher than red states. NY, CA and most of the blue states, lest you need a refresher in economics get back on average 61 to 65 cents for every dollar we pay in federal taxes. Alaska? $1.72, Texas? $1.67 and let’s not forget NC, SC, TN, GA, KY, MS and MO. Check the facts. When it comes to welfare, red states lead the pack. When it comes to their own state funding of their schools, it’s far below that of any blue state. When it comes to healthcare TX ranks No. 1 in the country for the highest number of people without any healthcare. Gee…when these Texans get sick what do they do? Run to the ER and get their healthcare FREE? That’s what they do in nearly every red state. As for welfare, the red states don’t EVER touch a dime of their state taxes to help their indigent. They take take take that from the other states which is why NY, NJ, CT, NH and CA all get barely above half a dollar for the dollar we pay…the rest goes to the “ignernts” who are so forward thinking they hand out gun licenses to people who can’t see….Gee…should we think about how forward thinking it will be when these Iowa idiots begin to hand out airplane pilot licenses to “fly blind?” How appropriate…red states…where the blind are now leading the mentally blind.

          • RobertCHastings

            It took a CONSERVATIVE SCOTUS to overturn DOMA and force a lower court to re-examine California’s Prop-8, which should not have been passed in the first place in California.

          • Allan Richardson

            Comparing the fictional Dogpatch with these idiots is an insult to Dogpatch. The late brilliant cartoonist Al Capp created these characters to show that despite the limitations of their lives and environment, people can still get along and love each other. None of the characters in that comic strip showed ill will, much less ill will combined with intentional ignorance, as demonstrated by the people of Iowa.

            It was especially ironic that the failure to keep guns away from blind people was “blamed on” the Americans with Disabilities Act, which only requires “reasonable accommodations” to handicaps. A blind doctor (presumably blinded after completing medical school and licensing) could be an excellent theorist and classroom teacher, but would never dream of attempting to do surgery, and the ADA would never force a hospital to hire one AS A SURGEON.

            Of course, the real issue is not gun OWNERSHIP, but gun USE. A blind man who hires a servant could OWN the gun but designate the servant (possibly a bodyguard) to CARRY the gun to protect his employer. But even the founders who wrote the Second Amendment probably never imagined that their amendment would be used to convey a legal right to gun carrying by a blind person. It was so inconceivable that they did not even bother to mention it! And likewise, Iowa law did not bother to mention blindness as a disqualification for any kind of permit. Of course, requiring a target shooting test would solve that problem!

            Until and unless blind people have access to prosthetic vision as good as that used by the fictional Starfleet engineer Geordi La Forge (Levar Burton), it would be ridiculous to give a gun to a blind person.

      • Sand_Cat

        Subtlety is not one of my strengths, and I thought this was pretty blatant, but sorry if you or others misunderstood and were offended.

        Thanks, CooofNJ for coming to my defense.

  • John Pigg

    This article is a complete and utter misdirect. The Iowa legislature isn’t attempting to arm blind people. The way the law is currently written the state cannot discriminate against those that apply to carry a firearm even if they have a visual impairment.

    I once heard an amusing story about a blind man who re-shingled his roof at night. He thought about the heat, and decided that it would make more sense to do it at night. His neighbors were absolutely beside themselves about the fact that he was roofing in the night. But for him he found it amusing because he cannot see all the time.

    If this man wanted to start his own business and work on roofs at night, should the government test his eyesight? It doesn’t make sense to draft legislation that eliminates common sense. I highly doubt that hordes of blind or visually imparied people are trying to purchase firearms, I also doubt that Iowa introduced this legislation to arm blind people.

    I do not know why anyone who is blind would want to purchase a firearm. But there are bigger issues than whether or not a state introduces dis qualifiers for those with visual impairments.

    • Tommy G Warren

      Does this include all “imparied” people, including people with brain damage?

      • John Pigg

        dunno, but at a glance its far less controversial than the title made me initially think.

        • Russell Byrd

          I was under the impression that in most states an applicant has to show they attended a gun safety course and made a minimum score in target practice. Maybe, Iowa is even crazy enough not to have such requirements, but I really can see Stevie Wonder firing live ammunition at a target. Well, not really. The requirements in my state are really laughably minimal, but at least one has to go through the motions.

          Giving a blind man a fully loaded automatic pistol, and then letting them have at, does not give me a good feeling.

          • John Pigg

            It varies from state to state. Some have rather strict procedures and some do not.

            You are right though, that it will be difficult to hit shots on target. But firearms are tools and have a great many purposes besides deadly force. But this also ignores the fact that blind people are not requesting gun permits. This whole article was written from a standpoint of it being theoretically possible.

      • Allan Richardson

        That seems to be the standard for governors of red states.

    • RobertCHastings

      Bless the blind roofer. However, I cannot help but disagree with your reasoning. IF the Iowa legislature saw the need to consider the gun rights of the visually impaired, then they should have made some effort to clarify the conditions under which the guns would be kept and used. I also cannot imagine the need a blind person would have for a gun; however, they make a very likely target for the NRA, who would like nothing more than to find the firearms industry some more customers, regardless of the sensibility.

      • John Pigg

        I cannot think of the slightest need for a blind person to own a firearm. I can also not imagine that the blind would be capable of construction jobs. But the narrative behind this article is that Guns are bad and look at how stupid Iowas legislature is.

        I looked over the gun requirements of my state. The only requirement is that you are sane, have good character, no record, and are of age.

        My point is that within the article it said that disqualifying those with visual impairments could violate the American Disabilities Act. So it does not surprise me that it is theoretically possible to gain a firearm permit even if you are blind. However, if there are not huge outbreaks of blind on non-blind violence, then I fail to see the problem.

        • RobertCHastings

          Less than twenty five years ago, the US gun industry was flat-lining. Virtually every male who wanted a shotgun, a pistol, and a hunting rifle in this country had one. The market was saturated. Enter a new marketing strategy – sell personal defense and designer weapons to women and kids. Prior to 1995, there were no pink guns manufactured in the US – who do you think was the target of the new marketing? As is evidenced by dozens of anecdotal cases of self-defense, semi-automatic handguns are NOT the most accurate, even in the hands of police. How many times recently have you heard of the police discharging their weapons, many times, without hitting anything but a car or a bystander? The old police .38 is still considered one of the more accurate handguns, especially with something longer than the snub-nosed barrel. However, as the market was saturated by these weapons, new weapons and new buyers had to be found to revitalize the industry. As a result, many big-city police departments (and many not so big) were given sweetheart deals to trade in their old .38s for the new 9mm with higher-capacity and quick-change clips. The guns that were traded in – guess where many of them wound up. In gangs within the big cities – this has been substantiated by the ATF. Cities like NY and Chicago, who have on their books laws prohibiting handguns within the city, are now more heavily armed than the military reserve units residing within those cities, because the swapped out guns from police departments are winding up in gun shops just outside those cities, being sold by licensed dealers who are basically furnishing gangs with weapons, with the nod of their suppliers, the domestic gun industry. This is not some wild fairy tale cooked up by an arch conspiracy theorist. Tom Diaz’s “The Last Gun” explains this quite clearly and cogently, giving excellent references.

          • John Pigg

            It is interesting how much our country has changed in the last 25-30 years.

          • RobertCHastings

            Immensely so. Just this morning I saw a startling stat on CNN. The to 1% of the population (about 3.1 million) own 19.3% of the wealth in this country. What is more shocking (and telling) is that this is the worst wealth discrepancy we have experienced since 1928, the year before the Great Depression, a financial collapse directly linked to the great divide in wealth.

  • montanabill

    Gee, and I thought National Memo was against all kinds of discrimination.

    • Eleanore Whitaker

      How is protecting the rest of the country from blind drivers “discrimination?” Do they allow blind people to drive in Montana? As I recall when I visited your state, most of the rifles were in the hands of the guys…and most of them looked pretty healthy to me. So I’m guessing you’ll be wearing a blindfold the next time you fire your weapon right?

      • montanabill

        Looks like the Democrat’s War on Blind People to me.

        • Sand_Cat

          OK, I’ll take that. A good joke.

        • Eleanore Whitaker

          Another attempt at evading having to answer? Do you plan to drive with a blindfold? Answer the question.

          • montanabill

            Two companies are all ready making cars that can drive themselves. Within a very few years, that will be the way most of us get around.

    • PopPop Injersey

      Don’t be an idiot. If you can’t see that blindness is a condition that limits what you can do in the interest of the public safety, then you’ve lost too many brain cells. Don’t hide behind that disability nonsense and pretend blindness isn’t a severely limiting physical issue, you dolt. Let the blind drive, then and do surgery, act as crossing guards or technical editors. Why have any sane assessment of what people are actually capable of in light of their disabilities? Why do people go so soft in the head when it comes to f’ing guns?

      • Russell Byrd

        “Don’t be an idiot.” You just asked montanabill to stop being the only thing he has ever been any good at. 🙂

    • Sand_Cat

      That’s what you get for thinking when you’re obviously not used to it.

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    Wait ….let me see if I’ve got this right. Iowa state law allows people with “visual impairments” to be armed? Waaaaaaaaaaay too much petrochemical pollution in that state. It’s begun to make them the laughing stock of the world.

    What does “Visual Impairment” mean? I imagine if a “visually impaired” individual can be armed…they can also cross the US continent driving a vehicle too right? Now, that ought to make our roads really safe.

    Why bother with driving tests? Iowans have gone so far right their brains are in a state of apoplexy. It’s one thing to wear glasses to aid your vision. It’s entirely another to have sight so impaired that you cannot drive a car. Why then would these loonies of the gun nut version believe it’s okay to arm people seriously impaired?

    • 788eddie

      As Rachel Madow might say, “What could possibly go wrong?”

  • walter77777

    Gun permits and training for the blind are mad, but training with the sword is a very good idea; it works. Blind persons can learn to effectively use sword canes using the Japanese techniques of Kendo, Bokenjitsu,Iado, and related arts.
    Many years ago at the Kendo school of teh NY buddhist Church on 103rd st & riverside Drive there was an older Kendo master who was almost completely blind. No one could score points against him.

  • go4dan0

    Are they part of a “well organized militia” ?? If so heaven help us. The Tea Party is insane!

  • irishtap

    What! No blind major league baseball players?! No blind NFL quarterbacks?! Not even a little ‘blind roller derby’?This is so remarkably idiotic – it is hard to reply. Yet, this is the thinking of NRA worshiping, Tea Party gun religionists, coping with full blown grey matter atrophy. To them – this is “common sense”. We need not throw epithets at these people whom willfully abdicated the part of the brain which allows for critical thinking. Just label them for what they truly are – mindless zealots. We can’t just ‘wait out this alarming stupidity’ – we need people to attack it with the God given gift of reason and our intuitive sense of civil justice and decency for passing legislation giving us the right to live in a safe society. Otherwise the poison weeds take over…

  • Pamby50

    Actually you can’t get a driver’s license or own a car if you are legally blind in Iowa. I read about this yesterday. Still amazes me today.

    • Michael Kollmorgen

      There are several degrees of being legally blind and they all have their pitfalls as far as qualifying for drivers licences in I assume most states.

  • Eddy Cheek

    I know a man who is around 70 and has been collecting guns his whole life. He probably has a few hundred. If he wants to collect more why not. He can’t see to hunt anymore but still loves his guns.

  • Jrigney

    A legitimate issue, warranting genuine and intelligent discussion, is being deliberately cloaked in peripheral stupidity.
    Don’t be taken in.
    Read carefully, and you will discover that these people are talking about the PRIORITIES for their limited time and efforts, NOT that (deleted expletive) blind people should be wielding firearms.

    Thoughtful people who have thought this issue the rest of the way though, will not sit still and relinquish the 2nd Amendment rights without a significant struggle.
    That being said, we are going to get nowhere fast, trying to shout down those who are genuinely concerned about safely, even if we happen to believe that trading freedom for the general illusion of safety, is the height of idiocy.
    We have to stop this cycle of violence. Those who think that they are going to be able to do this by going after the inanimate objects (guns, in other words), are fools, on a fool’s errand.
    We have had auto-loading firearms widely available in this country for 150 years, so clearly, that’s not the problem or the answer.
    I would respectfully submit to you that TV Shows, and Feature Films, and “Gangsta-Rap ‘songs’ “, and worst of all, ultra-violent video games….are highly problematic to the endeavor. But these things are protected by The 1st Amendment, so what to do?

    We need to start seriously looking for answers to that question.
    But I will tell you this for certain—and a lot of you are not going to like it—if you seriously think that somebody is going to wave some legislative magic wand and make guns go away, it’s time for you to admit that you’re not very smart.

    • Sand_Cat

      No one thinks they can wave “some legislative magic and make guns go away,” and your articulation of this absurd statement shows you haven’t thought about this at all, never mind seriously. Just “save those second amendment rights,” no matter how stupid or inapplicable, is not the sign of deep and serious thought, but just a reflexive and mindless dismissal.

      • Jrigney

        I knew my words would be lost on many, even as I was writing them. The whole idea was to MAYBE spark an intelligent discussion of the facts, and thereby find some common ground. Your response conveys zero factual information, and beyond hurling insults, adds nothing to any such discussion.
        I’m not exactly sure what you were hoping to achieve here, Cat-Person, but I recommend that you at least try to use what limited intellect you possess. There is already far too much emotion in this debate, and I have far better things to do than trade insults with a half-wit.
        If you decide to respond, you get the last word—I’m done here.

        • Sand_Cat

          I was trying to point out that – despite your apparent and probably sincere concern and desire for talk on facts – your mind is already poisoned against the concept, and talks with you would likely go nowhere.
          Your words were not lost on me, though my intellect isn’t what it used to be or what I wish it was, but your proposal for the debate was itself inflammatory, and I guess my half-wit must be better than your full one if you really didn’t see that.

  • RD Walker

    Much ado about nothing. The permit is for concealed carry weapons. You also need the permit to carry a blade over five inches, a stun gun or pepper spray. The blind can reasonably carry these and deserve the right to apply for and receive a permit.

  • RobertCHastings

    Hell, there have been cases in the news recently of at least one parent killing his son because he thought he was an intruder, and HE was SIGHTED! Let’s just make all military sentries blind and give them a hair trigger.

  • Allan Richardson

    Contrary to the caricature of the ADA by right wingers who see protecting the ability of wheelchair users to access public buildings, that law does NOT require employment or approval to perform an action that is INHERENTLY rules out by a disability, only that REASONABLE accommodations have to be made, such as blind-adapted computer workstations for office workers, Braille signs on doors, wheelchair ramps, etc. A joke that goes around every baseball season is that umpires are allowed to take their seeing eye dogs on aircraft to away games. And a supposedly true story once published by Ann Landers or Dear Abby mentioned an airline pilot who became friends with a regular flyer who was blind and took his dog; one day this blind passenger wanted to nap during a layover, but his dog needed a walk. Yep, another passenger was shocked to see the pilot walking through the terminal with a guide dog!

    So, I think this whole “debate” is just an excuse to make fun of the ADA and the “stupid librals” who passed it, and supposedly want to let blind people carry guns and be surgeons and umpires, and deaf people judge musical contests and do simultaneous translation in the U.N.

  • Michael Kollmorgen

    BOOM, Your’re Dead!

    OH, so sorry, didn’t see ya……………

  • bhaggen

    I’m a gun owner, but I don’t get this. Maybe there’s something missing to this story?

  • stcroixcarp

    Blind people who want gun permits should have to show their driver’s licenses.