Monday, September 9, 2013

A Shot In The Dark

I promise this story is not from The Onion.

Lawmakers and law enforcement officials in Iowa are debating the merits of issuing blind citizens permits to acquire and carry concealed firearms. The legality of such permits is unquestionable: state law doesn’t allow sheriffs to discriminate on the basis of physical ability. Moreover, as Jane Hudson, the executive director of Disability Rights Iowa, told the Des Moines Register, preventing the blind from the right to obtain weapons or public carry permits would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

But many, including Patrick Clancy, superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, Sergeant Jana Abens, a spokeswoman for the Polk County sheriff’s office, think “it seems a little strange.”

“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 told the Register.

Complicating the issue is that unlike driving, which is considered a state-granted privilege, gun ownership is a constitutionally protected right. Preventing the blind from owning guns may not only violate their special protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but their constitutional right to bear arms. Whether they can carry guns in public, however, is not a clearly defined constitutional matter.

What could possibly go wrong?