Iowa Permits Blind People to Obtain Gun Permits. Seriously.

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Disclaimer: I am a very vocal advocate of stricter regulation of gun laws.  That does not mean that I do not respect the 2nd amendment (“right to bear arms”).  I absolutely do, and I respect the original point of view of the framers of the Constitution.  So does Justice Scalia; it’s called being an originalist.  Now can we acknowledge that times have changed since the drafting of the Constitution?  That public safety should override, or at least be more strongly considered, in federal, state, and local legislative actions?  That sometimes there is a limit to how far a law can reach?

The backstory is simple: According to the Des Moines register, Iowa now grants permits to obtain guns to legally blind people.

Their reasoning is simple: it is legal and constitutional, pursuant to both the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 endeavors to regulate, and has for years regulated, who is able to obtain a license to carry a gun and the rules surrounding the ability to obtain a gun license.  The law provides that there are certain classes of people who are ineligible to be licensed gun owner.  These people include, but are not limited to, the following: criminals, a non-citizen of the United states; potentially dangerous people against whom restraining orders have been issued, and abusers of illegal substances or alcohol.  Not listed in this group of people banned from owning a gun license?  Blind people.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 seeks to protect those who for any reason may face unlawful discrimination due to a disability.  These disabilities include physical and mental disabilities like blindness, deafness, those in wheelchairs, and those with developmental issues.

Both of these federal laws serve important and necessary purposes for the protection of public safety and civil liberties.  The difficulty with this particular legal and legislative issue is the cross-section of the laws and their purposes.

In allowing the legally and completely blind to obtain gun licenses, Iowa is taking an important stand in the advancement of the ADA and the protection of the civil liberties of its citizens.

That being said, our nation has, in the last few years had significant problems with gun control, gun access, and disabilities (specifically mental health).  We’ve been down this slippery slope before.  Is anything catastrophically dangerous likely to happen if a legally blind person is carrying a gun they are legally licensed to have?  Probably not.  But what if a blind woman is in her home with her two children one night and an intruder enters?  What if the woman grabs her firearm and shoots in the direction of the perceived intruder, but instead fatally wounds her child?  Why are we not considering the repercussions of this law?  There needs to be more debate on this, and more possible scenarios considered, before the full enactment of the law.

[Des Moines Register, CNN, Fox News]

Featured image courtesy of [M Glasgow via Flickr]

Peter Davidson II
Peter Davidson is a recent law school graduate who rants about news & politics and raves over the ups & downs of FUNemployment in the current legal economy. Contact Peter at



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