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Questions asked over the blind's right to firearms in Iowa

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God Bless America – where freedom is measured in firepower and the holy trinity of guns, money and religion continues to produce absurdity on such an epic scale that satirists can barely keep up.

That is of course a sweeping generalization for a country of dazzling contrasts, but we all know what we’re talking about here. And if you don’t – try this on for size.

It is the cheering, rational and not at all insane news that Iowa is now allowing blind people to carry guns. If you asked us 5 minutes ago if we thought the blind should come in for any kind of discrimination, we’d have bitten your head off, but in all honesty, carrying guns does strike us as something the visually impaired perhaps shouldn’t do.

This bizarre set of circumstances reflects the triumph of the NRA, the gun lobby and the fringe right in the state. The legislature, in their eternal wisdom created a uniform law dictating access to legally held guns. Basically, anyone who doesn’t have a criminal record or a history of mental illness is good to go. And that includes the blind

Delaware County Sheriff John LeClere noted that "If we have a person who is possibly eyesight impaired, he is certainly entitled to defend himself," he said. "But should he be carrying [a firearm] in public? Should there be further restrictions placed on him based on eyesight?"

"I have some reservations about full access for people who are blind," said Patrick Clancy, superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School in Vinton, Iowa. "That's just because shooting requires a lot of vision to be accurate outside of controlled settings with safety courses."

Meanwhile, Chris Danielsen, spokesman for the National Federation of the Blind said "We don't believe there should be a blanket prohibition on blind people owning or carrying guns. It's certainly true that the blind person or visually impaired person needs to be cautious about using a firearm, but so does everybody else."

Danielsen believes that the issue of whether or not to use a gun is primarily an issue of common sense, not sight. "The important thing for people to realize is that our judgment is not impaired," he said.

Several major voices have tried to use this issue to make this last point including Cedar County Sheriff Warren Wethington who went as far as to suggest that blind people were even ‘more entitled to carry permits’. And it most certainly isn’t a question of their judgement or any diminishment of their mental faculties– but is it really wise to give guns to those with 20/20 vision let alone the blind?

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