Before I get into the nuts and bolts of this post, I want to start off by apologizing. Since I’m legally blind, this topic is near and dear to my heart, and as you might imagine, sometimes I can come off as defensive. The fact of the matter is, I AM defensive. When I saw this topic in yesterday’s news, I held out hope that I wouldn’t find the usual closed-mindedness that one might expect, but in no time at all, reality set in as I read public opinion.
That all being said, I’ll do my best to balance passion with reason.
So here’s the scoop. Yesterday, I was sitting at my computer minding my own business when Fred sent me a link. Not knowing what to expect, I clicked on the link, and then I switched over to Firefox so I could begin reading. I read the title, “Blind granted gun permits in Iowa”, and I had two, near-simultaneous reactions. My first reaction was, “OK. So what! That’s not news.” And my second reaction was, “Oh, Lord. Here we go! Now I’m going to get to read all about how blind people should be exempt from the Constitution.” I could literally feel my blood pressure starting to rise.
After reading the article’s title, I switched back over to my husband’s chat window. “You know, I almost don’t want to read this after seeing the title. It really has me pretty worked up.”
“I knew it would,”, Fred said. “And you should see some of the comments that people are making.”
“I don’t even know if I want to,”, I told him, and then I went back to reading the article.
Basically, the article seemed to be written with the usual slant. Apparently, Iowa law was changed so they’re now a “shall issue” state, and folks don’t seem to like the idea that blind people weren’t excluded by the law.
People are all up in arms about it. The general consensus seems to be that if you can’t drive a car, you have no right to carry a gun in public. As you all can imagine, I think that’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard!
First and foremost, I’ve read the Constitution, and the Second Amendment does not say:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed UNLESS you’re blind.
Now, some of you might be saying, “But Sarah. You have some sight. You’re not ‘blind’.” The fact of the matter is though, as my husband described it, “Blind isn’t digital — all or nothing. It’s analog, and people don’t get that.” Yes, I have enough vision to read (with aids) and use my computer, but in unfamiliar circumstances, my vision is all but useless to me. Yet I still believe that I have the right to carry just as much as my husband, my neighbors, or a person who’s COMPLETELY blind.
Then, of course, comes the next question. “OK. You might have a right under the law, but it’s a safety issue. How can you be trusted with a gun if you read Braille and walk with a cane or a dog guide?”
For me, there’s a simple answer. How can I trust that a sighted person won’t get drunk and decide to do something stupid with his gun? How can sighted people be trusted to identify their target before pulling the trigger? How can sighted people be trusted to make the right decision every time with their firearm?
I think it all boils down to a lack of education, to be quite honest. Folks who don’t know any blind people make all these assumptions about our capabilities. I experience it all the time. People assume I can’t hear. They assume I can’t cook, care for my children, or live independently. Because they don’t know how they’d do things without being able to see well, they assume that I’m going to struggle with all those things, and of course, I don’t.
I attended a high school for gifted kids, I attended college, I was the first blind person to become YMCA scuba certified (as far as we know), I’ve lived and traveled independently since graduating from high school, AND I’m raising three amazing children with my husband. Oh yeah… And I like guns and I love shooting.
See, it’s not up to a sighted person to decide whether or not I can do something. Just because said sighted folks can’t understand it doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
Let me turn the tables for a second here. When I’m in the car with my husband, I can’t understand how he can drive. I can’t understand how his brain can keep track of all the visual inputs while the kids are yelling and the radio’s on. I can’t understand how he can predict traffic patterns before they happen, how he can know whether or not his car’s going to fit into a given spot, and how he knows how much to turn the wheel to make a turn or a lane change. Since I can’t see enough to do those things, imagining how I’d do them is impossible. That doesn’t mean that he can’t drive though. And that doesn’t mean that I have the right to tell him, “Well, I just don’t see how you can get us to church safely, so we’re just not getting in the car with you!”
Back when Fred was learning to drive, his brain adapted, right? I mean, he didn’t come out of the womb understanding the concept of being “one with the vehicle”. There was a learning curve, and yeah, a certain degree of sight is required for it, but he adapted to the requirements of the task.
The same is true with me and guns. Because I can’t see as well as the next guy, I have to adapt, taking my limitations into account. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have the right to carry a gun. It just means the situations in which I’d choose to use my gun are likely fewer than those in which Fred would choose to use his.
I’m not going to try to shoot a guy that’s 50 yards away, but I’m sure as heck gonna do better in a low (or no) light situation where sighted folks can’t do anything other than depend on their eyes.
And then there’s the question, “Well, if Fred carries, why do you need a gun?” Well, why do YOU need a gun? Most of us view guns like insurance or a fire extinguisher. We have them if they’re needed, but we hope that we never have to use them. In fact, I don’t know what the statistics are, but I’d imagine the percentage of folks who carry AND who’ve had to shoot a person is pretty darned low. So I could just as easily say to you, “Well, since you’re probably never going to have to shoot someone, why do you need your gun?” But the fact of the matter is, in “shall issue” states like Indiana, you don’t have to justify it.
Even though I don’t have to justify my carrying a gun, I can though. Yes, my husband carries. Yes, a lot of people I know carry. If you carry though, how would you feel about handing that job over to someone else? How secure would you feel expecting that everyone else was going to have your back at all times? That’s not to say I don’t think my husband and friends would have my back, but nobody looks out for me as well as I do.
Also, as a blind person, I’m a target. In much the same way that a fat guy’s a target or a skinny woman is a target, I realize that a bad guy might think it’s easy to get one over on me. And since I can’t see to make a hasty retreat, I’d likely be forced into a confrontation where the bad guy has the advantage. In those kinds of close quarters though, identifying my target would NOT be a problem. Even a person with no sight is sure of their target when a bad guy has hands on them.
After yesterday’s news article, I thought I’d seen the last of this issue, but it was covered on the local CBS affiliate this morning. I found it interesting that they didn’t mention the fact that Indiana too is a “shall issue” state, so blind people have been getting carry permits here for a LOT longer. I guess they didn’t want to inflame their audience too much.
Look, folks, I don’t feel that all people are equal in all things. I’m a realist, and I know better. Just because a blind person would have fewer scenarios in which to use a gun than you would doesn’t mean that he or she should never have the option. And if you’re a supporter of the Second Amendment, think of it like this. When we start excluding certain groups from protection under the Constitution, who’s to say that we stop with the blind people? In the end, if the Second Amendment isn’t as inclusive as possible, we risk it being eroded for EVERYONE. I’m telling you; it’s a slippery slope that none of you want a part of.
- Blind granted gun permits in Iowa — from our local ABC affiliate, WRTV-6
- Second Amendment to the United States Constitution — Wikipedia
- Cary McWilliams – Shooting Questions and Answers — a blind guy that made a lot of waves when he started shooting and hunting