There is a portion of the gun debate that the media rarely brings up- and it is how would new regulations, if implemented, affect the blind and visually impaired?
This debate is one of the most divisive arguments in our society today and seems to be more of a rights vs. security issue. It seems that most of society thinks that a completely blind individual owning a gun is not physically safe. Stevie Wonder is even reported to say that it was “Crazy” that the blind could purchase one.
The NFB in 2013 wrote this statement:
” The National Federation of the Blind, the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind Americans, understands that guns are dangerous weapons and that anyone who owns, carries, or uses them must, therefore, exercise great care and sound judgment in doing so. Blindness has no adverse impact on a person’s ability to exercise due care and good judgment. State firearms laws must be applied in a nondiscriminatory manner to blind individuals. Recognizing that laws and regulations regarding the granting of permits to own and/or carry firearms vary throughout our country, our single position on firearms regulation is that a permit to own and/or carry a gun should not be denied to any individual solely on the basis of blindness. “
The Gun Control Act of 1968, it prohibits individuals from being able to purchase a firearm. These include felons, fugitives, people convicted of misdemeanors involving domestic violence, people subject to a domestic abuse restraining order, people who are unlawfully using or addicted to controlled substances, people dishonorably discharged from the US armed forces, people adjudicated to be “mental defectives,” and people “committed to mental institutions.”
Would new legislation add the Blind and Visually impaired to this same list, comparing them to the same degree as the mentally institutionalized and mentally defective? Yes. Which is why it matters so much to the blind community. Being blind has no effect on exercising good judgment and safety exercises.
So why is it the sighted and even members of the blind community find blind firearm users so much more risky than somebody who has their sight blocked by bushes, trees, fences, or other obstacles?
Greg Trapp posed the debate cleverly in the Braille Monitor:
“In other words, a sighted gun owner has the potential to shoot people he cannot see. This is exactly the same argument made against people who are blind. The only difference is that a blind person is presumed to be inherently incapable of exercising good judgment, whereas a sighted person is presumed to be capable of using good judgment. Conversely, the presence of sight does not bestow good judgment or infallible decision-making. Even highly trained law enforcement officers with perfect vision can misinterpret what they see and make a tragic error, such as the case of a child with a toy gun being mistaken for a criminal with a real firearm.”
The communities of disabled people should not be barred from their constitutional rights of gun ownership, concealed weapon carry, or hunting’ based purely on their physical or even mental capabilities. (i.e. Alzheimers, autism, down syndrome, etc.) But rather treated like everyone else, equality should be the prevalent culture in our nation and should the disabled be banned from firearms their constitutional rights and freedoms would be severely compromised.