Recently, Iowa made it legal for blind and visually impaired citizens to own guns. This news has been the center of much controversy across the nation; many believe that allowing blind or visually impaired people to own guns is a major safety hazard, while others feel that denying guns would be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The debate has blurred the lines between protecting those with disabilities and denying their civil rights.
The Campanil sees both sides of the issue. While we do not condone discrimination of any kind, we do believe that in some cases where safety is a concern, rights and privileges need to be modified. We feel that if someone is not physically capable of operating a motor vehicle and cannot legally have a driver’s license, they should not be allowed to carry a lethal weapon. Although we understand that the visually impaired can employ other senses, we question whether they would be able to use a firearm effectively without being able to see.
Many of us at the Campanil worry that this will lead to more gun-related accidents, such as a visually-impaired person shooting a family member because they thought they were an intruder, or shooting a hunting buddy that they thought was a deer. We feel that the topic boils down to an issue of safety rather than an issue of civil rights.
Although we are concerned for the safety of citizens, we also understand why the blind and visually impaired would want to own guns. Those who cannot see often appear vulnerable, and thus, are often targeted for crimes such as robbery or assault. Firearms would provide a level of protection and reassurance for their owners. The Campanil recognizes that being denied gun ownership may cause the blind to feel deprived of their right to bear arms, as per the Second Amendment. The Campanil also realizes that just because a blind person has a gun does not mean they will be shooting all over the place at any voice they hear—we hope that they, like any other citizen who owns a firearm, will use it responsibly and only when necessary.
For many of us at the Campanil, this debate raised larger questions as to whether anyone should be allowed to own a gun. Some feel that the desire to feel safe is not enough reason to have a deadly weapon. Others feel that there needs to be a better system for deciding who should or should not be permitted to have a gun. There should be more training provided for gun-owners. The Campanil believes that Iowa’s changing gun policy will prompt larger debates of safety and civil rights in the nation.