Iowa sheriffs are issuing gun-carry permits to legally blind citizens, the Des Moines Register reports. David Kopel of the University of Denver law school told CBS News that in the past two decades 42 states have passed laws that a sheriff “shall issue” (instead of “may issue”) firearm permits to applicants without a felony record. Aaron Dorr of Iowa Gun Owners says sheriffs may reject a permit application based on the applicant’s behavior in the previous two years. “We don’t think being legally blind is a behavior,” Dorr says. Kopel notes that being legally blind does not mean a person can not see at all: “Eighty percent of people who are considered legally blind have some vision.”
The Rev. Cheryl Thomas is the executive director of Iowans for Gun Safety and a disabled American, confined to a wheelchair. Thomas said that although she does not believe blind Iowans who wish to have a gun in their home for protection should be prevented from doing so based on their visual impairment, that “common sense” dictates that it’s “just not safe” for that same person to carry a gun in public. Dorr of Iowa Gun Owners disagrees. “We don’t believe that a woman has to have 20/20 vision to shoot a man who is on top of her trying to rape her,” says Dorr. Indeed, according to Kopel, the “vast majority” of armed self-defense incidents occur within less than 10 feet.