Blind man and wife buy gun: Michael Barber, who is blind, buys a handgun at Bass Pro Shop in Altoona with the help of his wife, Kim. Both the Barbers have passed a safety course and plan to pratice with the gun on a shooting range.
Des Moines, IA-- Advocates for Iowa's blind have found themselves amidst an international buzz about a state law that allows blind people to carry guns in public.
The discussion was sparked by the publication of a Sunday Des Moines Register report that told the story of three legally or completely blind Iowans who have been granted gun permits since January 1, 2011, the date that Iowa became a so-called "shall issue" state.
The story has been picked up by a range of media outlets, from FOX, ABC and CBS news sites picking up all or portions of the story to news services in the United Kingdom and France making inquiries to The Register about reporting similar stories.
"This interest is good," said Quintin DeVore, an 84-year-old legally blind man from Newton who was featured in the Sunday story about his permit to carry weapons. "It shows we're like anyone else and we don't want to be left behind."
DeVore continued: "I think it might also help people realize that blind people aren't sitting in the corner twiddling our thumbs."
Iowa sheriffs for decades could legally deny gun permits for virtually any reason, including a person's inability to see.
But since Iowa's new law took effect, gun permits can only be denied for a reason specifically cited in state or federal law - such as domestic abuse or felony convictions.
Physical disabilities are not one of the reasons a gun permit can be denied.
And because the safety certification in Iowa can be completed online with no required shooting accuracy test, sheriffs say they cannot deny the permits even if the applicant can't see where to sign the application without assistance in guiding his or her hand.
Not everyone is pleased about the change, including Frank Strong, a legally blind Des Moines man and president of the Iowa Council of the United Blind.
Strong hopes an avalanche of public discussion will bring about common sense changes to the law that would better protect the public and prohibit blind people from carrying a gun in public.
Specifically, Strong contends that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution relates most directly to the United States militia, even though many legal scholars generally cite the amendment as guaranteeing individual gun rights.
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Written by, Jason Clayworth/Des Moines Register