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Blind Iowa Man Doesn't See The Big Deal About Being Issued A Gun Permit

By Chuck Sudo in News on Sep 9, 2013 4:00PM

While gun control proponents across the country argue for tighter restrictions on who can own a firearm, a blind man in Iowa obtained a permit to carry a gun in public.

Michael Barber purchased his gun at a Bass Pro Shop in Altoona, Iowa last month and was issued a permit to carry it around in public. Iowa law doesn’t allow sheriffs to deny residents the right to carry a firearm based on physical disability and Barber, an employee of the Iowa Department for the Blind, freely admits he’s doing this to test the limits of the law as much as he simply wants to own a gun.

“When you shoot a gun, you take it out and point and shoot, and I don’t necessarily think eyesight is necessary,” Barber said. “If someone is attacking me, I’m going to be able to hear what they’re doing, and if I need to use the weapon, I’ll use the weapon.”


“For me, the inspiration is just to see if I run into any difficulties,” Barber said in March, before purchasing his gun.“I want to see if I will be permitted to obtain the permit to carry as a blind person. If I’m not, I’ll challenge it.”

The law has split Iowa sheriffs with some saying they have no problem issuing permits to visually-impaired firearms owners and others asking “are you blind?” Advocates for the disabled like Jane Hudson of Disability Rights Iowa told the Des Moines Register argue not allowing the visually impaired to obtain firearms permits is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Iowa isn’t the only state that allows the blind to obtain a permit to carry a gun. Nebraska requires anyone applying for a gun permit to provide proof of their visual ability.

Barber and his wife plan on practicing shooting on a gun range and said “the sighted public has a misperception about blindness that if you’re blind, you can’t do this or that.”

“They don’t stop to think that with proper training and with opportunity, you can.”