We Americans take great pride in the unique rights and privileges that can be found within our country’s society. We may worship who we choose, peacefully protest what we want, and even say what we want about anything (no matter how disrespectful/absurd/ludicrous it may be). But the one thing that truly sets us apart is the right of the American citizen to bear arms. However, there are times when both common sense and sovereignty clash with the technicalities and misdirection of the law.
Iowa has recently started such an instance with the passing of new laws concerning gun rights. Now a smart and reasonable person understands that a gun is a tool, and like any tool, it’s usage (and the results thereof) rest on the shoulders of the person wielding that tool. As such, a gun is no more liable for it’s use than any other inanimate object used by humanity. Even so, there are still lines that must be drawn, especially with a tool as dangerous as a firearm. The main question is, where do we draw such lines? Well, as previously stated, Iowa has recently passed laws that make it perfectly legal for a blind person to carry around a concealed firearm. Not only that, but it is now illegal to deny them such a permit as proponents claim that it violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. The things that need to be observed are what part of the ADA the proponents are quoting, how denying blind people concealed carry permits supposedly violates the ADA, and the reasons how this could be a disaster waiting to happen.
The ADA is a very long and in-depth document. It documents practically everything involving the rights of handicapped people and the obligations and privileges of both the handicapped and their associates (be they other people, public places, or private/public entities). Since it was passed in the 1990′s, its rules and stipulations were added into the United States Code of Federal Regulations, which can be found in Title 28: Judicial Administration. Part 35: nondiscrimination on the basis of Disability in State and Local Governments, to be precise. The part to look at in this instance is Subpart D, on Program Accessibility. Statute 35.149 states Verbatim: “Except as otherwise provided in Statute 35.150, no qualified individual with a disability shall, because a public entities facilities are inaccessible to or usable by individuals with disabilities, be excluded from participation in, or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any public entity.”
A concealed carry permit is issued by the local Sheriffs department in Iowa, and a Sheriff’s department is considered a public entity, thus making it (in theory) illegal for them to deny a person any of their services (in this case, issuing gun permits) on the basis of a disability. However, there is one exception. It is common knowledge that a Driver’s Licence is a service, which is given to an individual by the State Government, which is a public entity. But if you are legally blind, then it is illegal for you to drive a vehicle. So wouldn’t this violate the Americans with Disabilities Act according to Statute 35.149? Not at all. And its all because of one word in the said Statute: qualified. It is illegal for a public entity to discriminate against a qualified individual on the basis of their disability. In terms of driving a vehicle, one must be able to see in order to drive safely and effectively, and if a person is blind, then they do not have this quality, as such, they are not qualified to drive. Thus making it legal for a State do deny them a Driver’s License on the basis of their blindness.
Now lets apply that to handling a gun. Like driving, eyesight is a major part of using a firearm effectively. If one cannot see their intended target, then they are endangering both themselves, and those around them. Not to mention they may not be able to recognize the target in the first place. Unlike a vehicle, a firearm is designed with the main purpose of inflicting (often fatal) harm. This makes a situation of self defense via gun for a blind person a matter of life and death for everyone in the entire firing range (anything that can be shot from where the shooter is standing). Whereas a person with good eyesight (not legally blind) would endanger those within the line of fire (the objects within proximity the intended target). So, it would be reasonable to propose the following. Unless a blind person can pass a standard shooting course, they are not qualified to carry a concealed firearm, thus making it perfectly legal to deny them such a permit.
You can read the USCoFR for yourself at http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=&SID=401972c8571220af9f5fa2a6dd1919bc&r=PART&n=28y126.96.36.199.36#28:188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206