Iowa is granting permits to acquire or carry guns in public to people who are legally or completely blind.
No one questions the legality of the permits. State law does not allow sheriffs to deny an Iowan the right to carry a weapon based on physical ability.
The quandary centers squarely on public safety. Advocates for the disabled and Iowa law enforcement officers disagree over whether it's a good idea for visually disabled Iowans to have weapons.
On one side: Jane Hudson, executive director of Disability Rights Iowa, who says blocking visually impaired people from the right to obtain weapon permits would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. That federal law generally prohibits different treatment based on disabilities
On the other side: Patrick Clancy, superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, who says guns may be a rare exception to his philosophy that blind people can participate fully in life.
Private gun ownership — even hunting — by visually impaired Iowans is nothing new. But the practice of visually impaired residents legally carrying firearms in public became widely possible thanks to gun permit changes that took effect in Iowa in 2011.
"I'm not an expert in vision," Delaware County Sheriff John LeClere said. "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."
"Stop, or I'll shoot in your general direction, you blurry mass, you!!!!
The Gun Control Act of 1968 and other federal laws do not prohibit blind people from owning guns. But unlike Iowa, some states have laws that spell out whether visually impaired people can obtain weapon permits.
Note to self: Avoid going to Iowa at all costs.