Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- Do blind people have Second Amendment rights? Of course, they do. Should they be prevented from carrying guns for self-defense? No, they should be subject to the same laws as other people.
Carey McWilliams has demonstrated, through word and deed, that blind people are fully capable of responsible self-defense and responsible use of guns. It is a disability, not a death sentence. From postbullitin.com:
The blind guy with a gun permit became a minor celebrity who made national and international news in 2001, even getting a segment on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” that showed him firing an assault rifle into the ground in front of a target.
“At first it was like, it was either a comedy thing or a villain thing,” recalled McWilliams, who insists he shrugs off detractors or jokes because he feels an obligation to educate other blind people about gun rights and gun safety.
In 2007, McWilliams self-published an autobiography about his hunting exploits and his efforts get a gun permit.
McWilliams' autobiography was published in 2007 but is currently out of print. Carey maintains a web page that tells his story.
He makes many valid points about the viability of a blind person's ability to use a gun for self-defense.
All of us have different abilities and capabilities. A blind person cannot see, but they often have superb hearing and know how to operate with little or no vision. Most self-defense situations occur in low or limited lighting.
Carey McWilliams made the decision to only fire his gun in self-defense when he is in contact with his attacker.
The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) should protect McWilliams rights under the Second Amendment. I looked at the ADA website. From ada.gov:
§ 35.130 General prohibitions against discrimination
(a) No qualified individual with a disability shall, on the basis of disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any public entity.
As a counter, the ADA does not ensure that blind people are issued drivers licenses. Drivers licenses are considered a privilege, not a Constitutional right. There is a portion of the ADA about whether a disability can make a person dangerous. From ada.gov:
§ 35.139 Direct threat.
(a) This part does not require a public entity to permit an individual to participate in or benefit from the services, programs, or activities of that public entity when that individual poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.
(b) In determining whether an individual poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, a public entity must make an individualized assessment, based on reasonable judgment that relies on current medical knowledge or on the best available objective evidence, to ascertain: the nature, duration, and severity of the risk; the probability that the potential injury will actually occur; and whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures or the provision of auxiliary aids or services will mitigate the risk.
Such an assessment does not seem difficult. Legally blind people have defended themselves with firearms in their homes. We know it is possible for them to do so in public. The burden is on a public entity to show, in each individual case, that there’s a direct threat that cannot be overcome with a reasonable accommodation.
Carey McWilliams has concealed carry permits from Arizona, Florida, North Dakota, and Virginia. He was denied a permit in Minnesota, on the basis that he was a danger to himself and others, even though the judge said he was sure McWilliams would be very conscientious. The judge ruled the ADA did not apply to gun permits.
McWilliams says he plans to apply again, and if refused, to challenge the discrimination in federal court.
While McWilliams is completely blind, there are many other people who are legally blind but have some vision. They should not be discriminated against either.
There are 13 states that do not require a permit in order to carry a firearm, concealed or openly. Those states have a significant number of blind people. I have yet to see a headline where a blind person used a firearm irresponsibly and killed or injured someone while they were defending themselves.
Overcoming disabilities is inspirational. We have chosen to spend enormous amounts to accommodate people in wheelchairs.
The rights of people who are blind should not be violated, because of prejudice and unwarranted fear.
©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.