In the US state of Iowa blind people are allowed to carry guns (Reuters)
US public debate on gun laws have been revived after it was revealed that in Iowa blind people are allowed to buy and carry firearms.
Recently approved laws in the Midwest state ban sheriffs from witholding gun permits based on physical ability.
A number of certified or completely blind people have subsequently successfully applied for gun licence, local newspaper The Des Moines Register reported.
"It seems a little strange, but the way the law reads, we can't deny them [a permit] just based on that one thing," Sgt. Jana Abens, a spokeswoman for the Polk County sheriff's office, told the paper referring to visual impairments.
Advocates of the regulation argue that preventing visually impaired people the right to obtain weapons would constitute a discriminatory treatment that breaches the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"The fact that you can't drive a car doesn't mean you can't go to a shooting range and see a target," said Jane Hudson, executive director of Disability Rights Iowa.
Cedar County sheriff Warren Wethington, whose daughter suffers from a visual impairment, argued it is possible to train blind people to shoot without them being a risk to society.
"If sheriffs spent more time trying to keep guns out of criminals' hands and not people with disabilities, their time would be more productive," Wethington said.
Others, including CNN television host Piers Morgan claim allowing people who do not see to carry firearms is simply dangerous.
"They're blind! These people are blind," Morgan said on his show. "I interviewed Stevie Wonder. He said 'can you imagine I'm allowed to go and buy guns. Can you imagine me with a gun?' It is utterly ridiculous."
"Although people who are blind can participate fully in nearly all life's experiences, there are some things, like the operation of a weapon, that may very well be an exception," said Patrick Clancy, superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School.
The right to carry a gun is constitutionally granted in the US. However, state regulations usually require anyone applying for a licence to provide proof of their visual ability by supplying a driver's licence or doctor's statement.
In Iowa the permit is granted upon completion of a handgun-training course, which can be completed online, without actually firing a shot.
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