Yesterday, the Desmoines Register published, Iowa Grants Permits for Blind Residents to Carry Guns in Public. It is a fairly long article, but there really isn’t much more information in article than there is in the headline and the subtitle that reads, “Sheriffs and advocates are divided on whether that’s a good idea.” I’m divided on the issue myself. On the one hand, these are blind people—with guns. On the other hand, are they really any more likely to be idiots than sighted people?
It seems to me that society has already decided this issue. We don’t allow the blind to drive cars—both for the public safety but also for the safety of the blind person. So if the society decides that guns should not be carried around by blind people, that seems pretty reasonable given our social norms. Then again, I’m not keen on limiting people’s rights. And it isn’t that hard to imagine cases where a gun could be used effectively by a blind person. (It would seem that a taser would be just as effective, however.)
What I find interesting in all this is that guns in general are not treated like cars. In order to use a car, one must get training and pass a driving test. No such requirements are applied to using a gun. You just leave the gun store and accidentally shoot and kill your son. I think the problem is that we don’t perceive guns as the dangerous things they are. They just sit there doing nothing until quite suddenly they explode a projectile with often tragic consequences. For example, the guy who killed his 7-year-old son in the gun store parking lot was experienced with guns. But he apparently didn’t think there was anything wrong with having a loaded 9mm handgun sitting around his autistic child.
With public carry permits, the situation is better. Most states require some kind of training. And Iowa is no exception, “but that requirement can be satisfied through an online course that does not include any hands-on instruction or a shooting test.” I think that gets to the heart of the problem. Our pathetically weak gun laws and almost nonexistent proficiency requirements are not just a fluke. They are the result of ideologues pushing for laws that make gun ownership and use as simple as possible.
From a broad social standpoint, blind people walking around with guns just doesn’t matter—there are not many of them. But what bothers me is that legislatures think it is a good idea to provide such liberal gun laws that we are even discussing whether it is a good idea for completely blind people to walk around with loaded guns. I would prefer that we be much more careful about who we allow in public with guns. An armed society is not a polite society.