In Iowa, there’s almost nothing that can stop a law-abiding citizen from firing a gun. Not even being blind, according to Cedar County, Iowa, Sheriff Warren Wethington, who has provided firearms training for the visually impaired, including his own daughter.
A 2011 change in gun permit laws made it possible for visually impaired or totally blind Iowans to carry firearms in public, after advocates for disabled citizens claimed the former regulations violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. Now, Wethington has been helping those recently allowed to arm themselves learn how to handle firearms safely.
“People have this preset idea that blind people are going to be shooting at voices, and it’s just not going to happen,” Wethington told Here & Now. While he does believe there should be regulations on what visually impaired people can or cannot do, he doesn’t believe firing a weapon is one of them.
“I see no way a visually impaired person can operate a motor vehicle safely,” Wethington said. “But a firearm can be drawn and discharged, and truthfully it’s safer that way than a sighted person shooting five or 10 yards away. Because there is a possibility they could miss. If you have someone on top of you, and you rotate the weapon into them and make a contact shot, you’re not going to miss.”
Wethington also said people with passable eyesight are often in situation where visibility is limited, but still use firearms.
“There is any number of scenarios where a sighted person can find themselves in the exact same situation as a visually impaired [person], and nobody wants to talk about that,” he said.
However, according to The Des Moines Register, “Dubuque County Sheriff Don Vrotsos…said he wouldn’t issue a permit to someone who is blind. And Patrick Clancy, superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School…says guns may be a rare exception to his philosophy that blind people can participate fully in life.”