Guide Dogs and Guns: America’s Blind Gunmen

Silhouette GunEven if you blindly support the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution (the right to bear arms and all that), does it follow that you let blind people own guns? From BBC News:

In the US, being blind is no bar to owning and carrying firearms. The blind people who do it say they are simply exercising their constitutional right, and present no danger to the public.

When Carey McWilliams went to the sheriff’s office in Fargo, North Dakota, to fill out the paperwork for a permit to carry a concealed weapon, the staff immediately noticed he was holding the harness to a guide dog.

The woman behind the desk pointed out that he would have to pass a shooting test before being granted the licence, but McWilliams said he knew that. He told her not to worry.

“So then she took a picture of me, and my application then went up through the ranks – it got the signature of the chief of police of Fargo, the sheriff and the state attorney general’s office – and they kept calling me and calling me, saying: ‘There’s a shooting test, there’s a shooting test.'”

The day of the test came, and McWilliams duly went along to the police firing range with a friend who was also trying for a permit. The targets were half-size cut-outs of assailants, positioned seven yards (6.4m) away. McWilliams fired a series of shots with a .357 magnum, all of which landed in the heart region of his target.

Clearly, he knew what he was doing.

He had been into guns since he was 15, when, as an air force cadet, he went on a military camp. The marine in charge of the shooting range had a brother who had lost his sight but they still went hunting together, so he let McWilliams handle the M16 machine gun. McWilliams, who before he lost his sight at the age of 10 had dreamed of joining the armed services, was instantly hooked.

Three years later, he asked to enrol on a pistol marksmanship course run by the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps, the body that trains officers for the US armed forces. At that time there was no requirement to be enlisted in the army to take the course, and after much discussion, the instructor agreed to take him on. On the range, McWilliams learned to take aim by listening to the sound of his target being wheeled back against the wall. It served him very well. McWilliams says he shot better than two-thirds of his class, and in his final exam scored 105 out of 100, with one bullet somehow ricocheting and passing through the target twice.

He used the same technique in October 2000, in the police firing range in Fargo.

“The deputy sheriff said: ‘Well, you have all these stickers here telling me that you’re blind, but you passed the test, so you got your permit. Expect a lot of grief because you’re a test case for the whole system, no-one’s done this before.'”

Concealed carry permits – the licences required to carry a gun in public – are issued at state level, and the criteria and rules vary across the US. While there is nothing in North Dakota’s statutes to prevent a blind person – or a person with any physical disability – carrying a gun, in Florida, for example, a “physical inability to handle a firearm safely” is listed as a reason for ineligibility. Yet even there, a blind person with a North Dakota licence would still be able to carry his or her gun, since Florida recognises permits from that state…

[continues at BBC News]

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  • InfvoCuernos

    I am skeptical of the ricochet story. Firing ranges make it impossible for a ricochet like that to happen, and that makes me think that maybe there was another shooter on the range punching holes in his target, and miscounted ( or one of the blind guy’s shots actually unexpectedly hit the target, adding an “extra” hole).

    Let’s call arming the blind a “common sense” line. Seriously. I am all for the 2nd amendment, but this is one of those extreme scenarios that anti-gun groups (like the BBC) like to wheel out to show just how crazy gun-toting Americans are. The blind can’t differentiate targets. No matter what this article implies about how this cat uses sound to locate his target, this is just a bad bad idea.

    • Chad Burke

      You really underestimate the impaired. His condition makes him a target. At close range in an attack even brandishing a gun could easily save his life. If he passes the tests and has a clean background he should be allowed to carry, as is his right.

      • InfvoCuernos

        Let’s not play with words here. Its not “the impaired”- it is the blind, as in unable to see. I’m not going after the disabled, I’m saying that if you can’t see, maybe you shouldn’t have a gun. Also, never pull a gun unless you’re going to use it. Brandishing a gun isn’t going to save anyone’s life if, as you imply, he is being targeted for his “condition”. If they already know he’s blind, then he won’t stand a chance against sighted assailants, and now you’ve just put a firearm in their hands.
        Don’t misunderstand me, I think that firearms can be a great equalizer for disabled people, just not the blind.

  • Opposite Day

    What….the….hell… So blind people found a way to use sound like sonar, such as bats do? I wonder how he would do against moving targets? I’ll accept blind people’s right to own firearms when this guy starts dressing up like batman and fighting crime. But he can’t hurt any innocent bystanders! The deal’s off in that case.

  • Guest

    1. Never Point The Gun At Something You Are Not Prepared To Destroy
    2. Always Be Sure Of Your Target And What Is Beyond It
    3. Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger Until Your Sights Are On The Target

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