Anopie Get Your Gun

In case you missed it, there is currently a controversy in the state of Iowa over whether blind and partially sighted people should be allowed guns.

We aren’t just talking about hunting guns here, but concealed loaded handguns carried in public.

It’s a startling idea to anyone living where I do, in the UK. Here private citizens are banned from carrying weapons of any kind. But the Second Amendment of the US Constitution reads

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.

This was framed for an earlier era but still remains part of the US Constitution, so its interpretation is highly relevant to today. There are two basic philosophical strands of thought on how it should be applied.

One view is the collective rights version. In this interpretation, it means that the states that make up the US should be allowed to protect themselves as separate states and so the federal government should not prevent them from arming their militia, which was reasonable at the time. In the early part of the 20th-century this interpretation seemed to be gaining ground and it was accepted that individual gun ownership could be restricted, since the Amendment was about collective not individual rights.

The alternative view is individual rights. This holds that the Second Amendment provides a constitutional right for the individual citizen to carry weapons when they go out onto the street. This individual rights interpretation has been taken so far as to suggest that it’s not just something in the constitution of the US, but a fundamental human right.

More recently the individualist interpretation has been gaining force, although I think that legal opinion has generally only supported it on constitutional grounds, rather than as a basic human right. But the change means that gun restrictions are open to challenge.

Well, some in Iowa claim that disablement is not mentioned anywhere in the Second Amendment and they take the constitutional rights view. So since 2011 it’s possible for people who are legally blind and prevented by law from driving a car to walk about in public with a loaded handgun in their pockets.

As you would imagine some of the law enforcement agencies in Iowa would like to reverse this. But they are not unanimous.

As for organizations representing the partially sighted and blind, they are also undecided. They may well support the abolition of private weaponry and even a repeal of the Second Amendment possibly. But on the other hand if the sighted people on the street are armed, why should a blind or partially sighted person be put at a disadvantage they ask.

Other US states put more restriction on partially sighted persons carrying guns. For example they may be required to take a test at a shooting range, or in the case of hunting guns they may need to be with a sighted adult.

Personally I think it’s a terrible idea for anyone to carry a gun, and being partially sighted just makes it more dangerous. A leading libertarian, Michael Shermer, has very recently explained why he switched to opposing gun ownership because of the evidence of harm.

“Anopie” is just a word I made up from anopia (blindness) to describe myself and anyone anywhere with vision loss.

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About partialinsight

One evening I had a stroke. Half my sight vanished overnight. Adapting made me grasp how amazing the visual system and brain are. It also taught me to understand disability completely differently and I'm grateful for the lesson.
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3 Responses to Anopie Get Your Gun

  1. 3boxesofbs says:

    Several recent court cases have clearly stated that the 2nd Amendment is an Individual Right and is a fundamental right .

    This meaning is strongly confirmed by the historical background of the Second Amendment. We look to this because it has always been widely understood that the Second Amendment, like the First and Fourth Amendments, codified a pre-existing right. The very text of the Second Amendment implicitly recognizes the pre-existence of the right and declares only that it “shall not be infringed.” As we said in United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, 553 (1876), “[t]his is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner
    dependent upon that instrument for its existence.
    The Second amendment declares that it shall not be infringed. . . .”16

    This is not a new interpretation, as you can see from Cruishank, it has been around at least since 1876!

    But on the other hand if the sighted people on the street are armed, why should a blind or partially sighted person be put at a disadvantage they ask.

    More importantly why should the blind or partially sighted be put at a disadvantage against even the unarmed but sighted criminals?

    The main question to be asked is how the blind or partially sighted plan on using their firearm for self defense. I doubt any of them will be taking long range shots at their attackers. But the truth of the matter is that is simply a personal choice and a matter of tactics and training for that person.
    Why should we or anyone tell them they can’t carry the same weapon as anyone else?
    Do you have any evidence to suggest this problem is an overwhelming or of sufficient impact to the country that it justifies the government limiting the rights of individuals?

  2. I realize current legal interpretation supports the individual rights view and that it isn’t new. But to someone from a country where gun ownership is tightly controlled it’s all really surprising. No-one here goes armed and only a tiny minority would want to. We do have a far lower rate of gun-related deaths, about one-fortieth I think.

  3. 3boxesofbs says:

    We do have a far lower rate of gun-related deaths, about one-fortieth I think.

    And are firearms the only way to die or the only way that matters? I never understood that focus put on “gun death” — ‘Hey, we only had 1 gun death last year although 1,000,000 people were beaten to death with baseball bats — but our country is safer then America ”

    Nor should the focus solely be on the deaths; firearms have an incredible record for Defensive Gun Uses — stopping a crime in progress or preventing one entirely. The MOST conservative estimate is 108,000 per year with the high (but confirmed by additional research) as much as 2,500,000.
    Think about that — and consider the Bureau of Justice Statistics report that last year there were less than 400,000 firearm related violent crimes.

    And most gun control advocates don’t focus on the hunting benefits; hunters donate thousands of pounds of version and other game to homeless shelters each year.
    And there are millions of people shooting firearms recreationally each year. I’m the Membership Secretary for a private range that has over 2,300 members. We are open year round and on the weekends the place is jumping with people enjoying the sports.

    Have you ever been shooting? If not would you like to try.
    I will offer to find someone in your area — if you aren’t in the Dallas Fort Worth area.

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