DES MOINES — Iowa law enforcement officials are debating the wisdom of granting gun permits to blind people.
Iowa law doesn't allow sheriffs to deny a permit to carry a gun in public based on physical ability.
Some sheriffs have been granting gun permits to people with visual impairments while others have been denying them. Blind people and other Iowans can obtain the permits for carrying a weapon in public because of changes to state law that took effect in 2011.
Jane Hudson with Disability Rights Iowa said preventing blind people from getting weapon permits would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Some other states, including Nebraska, require anyone applying for a gun permit to provide proof of visual ability by supplying a driver's license or doctor's statement.
Hudson said she thinks someone could successfully challenge Nebraska's vision restriction because federal law requires states to analyze a situation individually before denying a service.
“The fact that you can't drive a car doesn't mean you can't go to a shooting range and see a target,” Hudson said.
Polk County officials said they have issued weapons permits at least three times to people who can't drive legally because of vision problems. Sheriffs in Jasper, Kossuth and Delaware Counties have also granted permits to Iowans with visual impairments.
Delaware County Sheriff John LeClere questioned whether visually impaired people should be able to get these permits.
“At what point do vision problems have a detrimental effect to fire a firearm? If you see nothing but a blurry mass in front of you, then I would say you probably shouldn't be shooting something.”
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