Should Blind People Be Allowed to Carry Guns? Question of the Day

“When police pulled up, they saw two men sitting in a pickup truck. The passenger, later identified as Freeman, had a black, semi-automatic pistol on his lap and a second gun was spotted on the center console moments later, according to the arrest report. Both men were arrested and charged with carrying a loaded firearm without a license.” A straightforward case of violating Massachusetts’ strict anti-gun laws, right? Well . . .

it seems that Richard Freeman, the man in the car with the pistol on his lap, is blind. But he hasn’t always been that way.

A gunshot to the head nearly killed Freeman several years ago and left him blind and suffering from seizures, (Freeman’s attorney Joe A.) Smith told Judge Bruce Melikian.

As for the firearm . . .

…Freeman had no use for the loaded, semi-automatic handgun that police allegedly found on his lap last weekend, his lawyer said.

“He’s blind,” attorney Joe A. Smith III explained Monday in Springfield District Court, moments before his client pulled a collapsible cane from his jacket and began to unfold it.

Freeman’s no choir boy. He has a record that includes drug convictions and under-age possession of a firearm.

But let’s consider blindness per se. Let’s say someone in a constitutional carry state who isn’t a prohibited person wants to exercise his or her right to keep and bear arms. After all, blind people are victimized by criminals, too. You OK with that?

comments

  1. avatar Geoff PR says:

    Well, outside of that little problem of knowing what’s behind the target…

    1. avatar Flinch says:

      Oh hell no!

    2. avatar Steve says:

      This is the problem for me… a blind person cannot follow the fundamental rules of safety for firearm use. So on one hand, yes – a blind person has a second amendment right and should be allowed to carry, but unfortunately without guidance from someone to provide that last fundamental rule, they should never fire it.

      Defining blind in THIS specific context would be a PASS/FAIL test of them being able to determine their backstop, essentially.

    3. avatar ORCON says:

      I read the headline to my wife, who is handy with guns but not what we would consider a “gun nut”. She said “Shouldn’t they have to know the target and what’s behind it? How’s that safe? If that’s a real headline I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.”

      We’re shipping her to the moon posthaste.

  2. avatar strych9 says:

    On the one hand they have the right and if they are not a prohibited person it’s legal so far as I know.

    OTOH it may not be the best idea but I guess that’s up to the individual in question. If they feel they can do it safely then I won’t argue as I lack any requisite experience to do so.

    I guess I would ask out of sheer curiosity: Are we talking legally blind or like blind, blind?

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      I’m agreeing with the rocket scientist – In your home, have at it. It’s implied you know what’s and who’s there – therefore, you can accept the responsibility.

      If your lead leaves your property, the prosecutor and lawyer attached to it rule applies…

  3. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

    Sure, why not? We trust each others’ discretion and marksmanship as it is.

    1. avatar PeterK says:

      Yeah this. I have seen enough stories of blind people learning to use a gun safely that I feel like it’s a thing. Ablist claptrap to the contrary with no evidence other than incredulity isn’t really convincing me otherwise.

  4. avatar rocketscientist says:

    In the home for sure…carrying out in public domain I personally would need to think on that a bit…bullets remain deadly past 10 feet and I am not sure how a blind person could responsibly drop the hammer as they can’t evaluate their target and what is behind it. As soon as they invent a bullet that stops being lethal past room distances I will change my opinion on blind outside-the-home carry. That said they are still potential targets for attack and they do deserve the natural right of self defense outside the home so it is a tough call…taser?

    1. avatar John in Ohio says:

      You know your bullets can go farther than you can see, right?

      1. avatar Momma1913 says:

        I can see stars, can bullets go that far?

        1. avatar john NM says:

          Actually, you are seeing the light they emitted, millions of years ago.

    2. avatar Geoff PR says:

      Ratshot would be an option, to an extent…

    3. avatar borg says:

      Some states such as ILLINOIS have a marksmanship requirement in order to qualify for and receive a carry license. Anyone that qualifies according to the law should be equally allowed their right regardless of disability. Denying a person that passed the marksmanship portion due to the disability of blindness would be an act of discrimination.
      If the blind person, however did not pass the marksmanship requirement then it would not be discrimination since the blind person would be treated equally to the sighted person by being held to the same standards.

  5. avatar Rickey says:

    Sure, but with blanks only.

  6. avatar Reggie Browning says:

    Difficult question. On the one hand, it’s highly irresponsible for a blind person to be shooting a projectile. It’s completely impossible to follow the “Be sure of your target and beyond.” rule of gun safety. And pretty darn difficult to follow the “Always point the gun in a safe direction rule.” They’re actually quite likely to kill an innocent person if they were to use it.

    That being said… they’re disabled and more vulnerable and need protection more than anyone else. They could shove the barrel of a gun into an attacker’s belly and fire (given that it’s not a Glock and doing so won’t push the gun out of battery.) but… I really have no idea what to think about it.

  7. avatar No one of consequence says:

    Yes … The same responsibilities, e.g. where fired bullets go, apply of course. But, yes. It is, or should be, a personal choice.

    No reason a blind person can’t own a car, either, or a television for that matter; it’s just the use that can raise questions.

  8. avatar John in Ohio says:

    Yes, I am okay with that. Ohio has some who carry that are legally blind. I’ve open carried with at least one such person.

    Contact shots are a thing.

    It doesn’t matter one iota what I or anyone else thinks about it anyway. They have an unalienable individual right to keep and bear arms. Full stop.

  9. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

    Stone blind he could not have done a worse job than the well led broward county sheriffs officers.

    Wonder if he wants to drive an AC transit bus? No way he’s worse than their regular drivers.

  10. avatar James Earl Hoffa says:

    I’m legally blind and I have a concealed weapons permit. I can still see I lost my left eye and some of my vision in my right. Not as good as I used to but I would never engage in something I knew I couldn’t control or at least identify. The Disabilities Act protects legally blind and blind people from being discriminated against when it comes to carrying a firearm concealed and a lot of other things as well. Not to mention I can carry a firearm and give it to my wife if it’s a low light situation or another person I may be with. She personally doesn’t like carrying firearms so what kind of perfect for each other. But I feel blind people know their limitations and they’re not going to push it beyond that point. Discriminating against us is just another discrimination and infringement on are constitutionally protected rights. And haven’t we had enough of that this year already?

      1. avatar John in Ohio says:

        You, nor anyone else, owes an explanation for exercising your unalienable individual right.

        Carry on.

    1. avatar Reggie Browning says:

      You actually bring up some good points. I had considered that blind people aren’t always completely blind, so it might actually be possible to use a gun safely for some of them. Given that, and how I tend to think people are capable of making their own decisions, I’ll have to lean toward yes blind people should be allowed to carry.

      Then you brought up another good point that you can carry a gun and give it to a sighted person should you encounter a situation where you wouldn’t be safe to use it. It’s a good reminder that people are capable of coming up with creative solutions to get around their disabilities and we really shouldn’t proactively prohibit people from doing something just because we think they MIGHT misuse it.

      1. avatar John in Ohio says:

        “we really shouldn’t proactively prohibit people from doing something just because we think they MIGHT misuse it.”

        You’ve got it. That’s what the anti-RKBA statists are all about.

      2. avatar Dick-in-Illinois says:

        “Legally blind” means one can see; although, limited field of vision and generally blurred, or vision in only one eye as you stated Totally blind is simply put – unable to see period.
        To get a permit you went through “Vision exams” or falsified the form! (You wouldn’t be the first!)
        Then there are verified range qualification required in Illinois!
        The “Americans with Disabilities have several exemptions concerning fireamrs.

        1. avatar John in Ohio says:

          To whom are you replying?

        2. avatar Chris Mallory says:

          Kentucky has no vision test for a concealed deadly weapons license. It does have a range test, but I suspect that could be challenged since the license also covers impact and bladed weapons.

          Open carry requires no license at all.

    2. avatar Southern Cross says:

      Just because someone is “legally blind” does not mean they are completely blind. Legally blind people can still have enough vision to drive cars, watch television, read books, participate in sports, and navigate the real world without difficulty.

    3. avatar Ed Schrade says:

      If this person has had drug convictions etc. is he legally carrying ?

  11. avatar Shire-man says:

    When the only reason not to if a stack of “what if’s” then there really is no reason.

  12. avatar John in Ohio says:

    The question, IMHO, is more honest and accurate being reworded from “Should blind people be allowed to carry guns?” to “Should blind people be prohibited from carrying guns?” Government isn’t “allowing” anything. Government would be prohibiting.

    Or, “Are blind people full humans?” because if we are going to apply something akin to the three-fifths rule…

  13. avatar samuraichatter says:

    Just because an individual cannot (anymore or ever) use a tool to its fullest potential does not mean said tool is not his or hers. Guns owning is a form or wealth building. You could collect guns just for their sheer value.

    1. avatar John in Ohio says:

      I agree with you but the question was about carry.

      1. avatar samuraichatter says:

        Even carry. I did not want to delve into that firearms are still effective for the blind but here goes . . .

        Just presenting a firearm to an aggressor can (and has) ended many a conflict. Shoot it (hopefully at the ground) most of the remaining flee. And displacing rounds usually gets loads of attention.

        Then there is always contact shots. Heck you got devices like powerheads that are designed for that very thing.

  14. avatar Dick-in-Illinois says:

    If someone doesn’t qualify (by examination – eyesight) for a drivers/operators license, then carry should be restricted; however, firearm ownership shouldn’t be restricted.

    1. avatar John in Ohio says:

      “Let’s say someone in a constitutional carry state who isn’t a prohibited person wants to exercise his or her right to keep and bear arms.”

      Constitutional carry state

      1. avatar davida says:

        This story seems to lack all the facts.
        In a constitutional carry state does that including ex felons ?
        ( who presumably lost rights for cause and served there time. )

        Here , as in this story, and then what if there blind ?

        or are we commenting on if the blind should be different then any one else .

        Past criminal or not, “constitutional carry ” should mean any one out walking free has the right .

        Screw that up , use it wrongly, your in the slammer either way .

        Personalty I am not worried getting shot by a blind gun owner carrying and i sure will not be giving them cause for alarm.

        As for it being wise for them to do so given its maybe a lot more dangerous for the blind to follow gun safety rules
        the right to be armed for self defense does not stop on a disability .
        If that makes you fear them more stay away .

        1. avatar John in Ohio says:

          To address the general first: Dick-in-Illinois was referencing requirements that do not fit constitutional carry. That is why my reply is as written.

        2. avatar John in Ohio says:

          Specifically to your post. I support the unalienable individual right to keep and bear arms. IMHO, if someone is not in the lawful, legitimate custody of another, they retain the ability to exercise their rights. Any custody would include a guardian responsible for their reasonable safety. Examples include: child, suspect in custody, prisoner in prison, patient undergoing surgery, etc.

  15. avatar former water walker says:

    YES..what part of “shall not be infringed” doesn’t everyone get?!?

  16. avatar Texican says:

    Just imagine the advantage for the blind person in complete darkness. Like a ninja!

    1. avatar John in Ohio says:

      You actually brought up a good point. If we are in complete darkness, do we not still carry? (Yes, flashlights are a thing but batteries fail, etc and we still are not prevented from carrying.)

  17. avatar Jonathan-Houston says:

    The specific blind guy in this article? No. Throw the book at him. He’s a prohibited possessor. His blindness is irrelevant.

    As for a generic blind person, as long as they can meet the EXACT same legal standards as anyone else in their state for the type of firearms conduct they intend, then OK. No exceptions to the rules just because they’re blind.

    If your state’s carry license requires a proficiency demonstration, then you better practice shooting very straight and at the proper angle. Get a friend to help you practice.

    If your state requires a field day component to its hunting licensing program, then get ready for that shoot.

  18. avatar Marty says:

    I had a friend who was hit by explosives in Nam. His eye sight was affected. He can still see across a room, kind of. The military notified him his 2nd A right was being removed. He was a gun shop owner and they were taking away his ability to make a living. He finally beat them through letters to Congressman and Senators. I was behind him 100%. Yea, an otherwise qualified person who is blind should be able to carry.

    1. avatar Dick-in-Illinois says:

      The military has no control over individual after either discharge or retirement. As for the Veterans Administration: it’s frequently happens when VA employees and/or doctors over-reach their authority! Now, the BATF can and has revoked FFL licenses when owners are unable to compare authorized photo ID to the person buying a firearm; however, the shop owner can hire an employee (that qualifies on an FFL license) to do sales. That individual can still own & possess firearms for personal use! One thing will generally mess with everything and that’s repeated failure(s) on mental exams!

      1. avatar Marty says:

        Yea, you’re correct. It was the VA who notified ATF who then advised him of the change of his 2A rights. Just like now the VA places names of folks who they feel cannot own firearms into NICS, also totally illegal in my mind.

  19. avatar little horn says:

    well according to RF’s “i dont have to think, it tells me what to think” version of the Constitution, yes they should. matter of fact it doesnt say it only pertains to the living so we need to make sure the dead are armed as well! SHALL NO BE INFRINGED, even after death!!!

    1. avatar pieslapper says:

      Well, the dead get to vote… why not carry as well?

  20. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    I’d recommend a revolver for the blind since they are better for contact shots.

  21. avatar Mr. savage says:

    in a self defense situation, ANYONE can make a mistake that injures or kills an innocent. adrenaline pumping, possible blackout or tunnel vision, mis-identification ECT ECT ECT. so what’s the difference? of course the blind should be able to make the same decisions the sighted can make, deaf folks or non-speaking folks wouldn’t be given a second guess, so blind should be no different.

  22. avatar tjlarson2k says:

    It comes down to firearms safety. How blind is blind? Blind enough to negate the third and fourth rules?

    If the individual can demonstrate safe firearms handling and control of the firearm in the context of a DGU without reasonably endangering others, then who are we to deny them the their right?

    A lot of sighted people at the range can’t hit paper…

    1. avatar Dick-in-Illinois says:

      now, Considering the location of firearms, ie. one on lap and one on counsel indicates to me that those firearms were “READY FOR USE”!

  23. avatar Isaac says:

    Depends, who gets to define “blind” and in what context? Is someone with 20/200+ uncorrected vision still blind if they are able to correct to 20/40 or better?

    Look with an aging population and a bunch of gun control advocates out there we better figure that out before they do.

  24. avatar Thinker-1 says:

    Not the subject. He already denied his legal rights to guns. The consensus seems to be that if someone can see well enough to navigate, the 2A still applies to them. Also the accountability for the destination of any bullets they fire. Just like the rest of us.

  25. avatar borg says:

    Denying a right due to disability is illegal discrimination under state and federal laws. If someone is strangling a blind person they would likely be able to shoot the strangler without unnecessary risk to bystanders.

  26. avatar DrewR55 says:

    I doubt a blind person would be a worse shot then a member of the NYPD.

    I see nothing in the constitution that says our guaranteed rights end where physical or mental handicaps begin. If there were such restrictions I would demand all tide pod eaters lose their rights and their entire generation would need to undergo tests to prove competence.

    Ultimately, we are all responsible for what we do and where our bullets go. If a blind person has a firearm and goes through any (unconstitutional) hoops to receive a carry permit then they should not be prevented from carrying.

  27. avatar Brian says:

    I say yes, but it’s up to the blind person to understand and know their limits. A contact gut shot with a revolver can stop a would be attacker thinking they have an easy mark. Regardless, they are still responsible for every round that comes out of the barrel

  28. avatar Specialist38 says:

    I remember Mas Ayoob had an article that covered blind people.

    He mentioned one fellow that carried a 44magnum with blanks for contact shots.

    This guys was “blind” not just “legally blind”.

    Interesting thoughts and discussion. How do the weakest among us defend themselves?

    A gun is usually the best answer. Responsibility for what comes out the barrel always falls to the owner.

  29. avatar Higgs says:

    Yes.

    I personally would recommend a revolver so it can be used by a blind person in a grappling situation. that way the backstop is the person the gun is being uses on ar arms length.

    Now if the are Dare Devil they can use and rifle with a special sonar attachment on the front…. Just saying….

    1. avatar Wiregrass says:

      This is the type of situation where I can see a blind person using a firearm for effective self defense. The muzzle of a revolver jammed into an attackers ribs. Pretty certain of your target in that situation.

  30. avatar Joe R. says:

    Yes.

  31. avatar DrewR55 says:

    Does your right to privacy end when you cannot see the cop illegally and warentlessly searching your home? How about when a cop is sitting next to a TTY operator? Does someone who is mute not have a right to free speech? How about those in a wheelchair, do they not have a right to assembly? Does someone with a mental handicap not have a right to petition their government?

    Constitutionally acknowledged and protected rights are absolute.

    (While not a consitutional protection) Is communication between client and lawyer no longer privileged when they have to communicate via sign language and the opposition can read sign language?

  32. avatar ironicatbest says:

    Should a blind person be able to carry a gun? That’s more or less a question a nine year old child should answer. Children should be given all of life’s decisions. From budgeting the economy to taking out the trash, Junior knows best.

  33. avatar Rory Mcallister says:

    If you are a true believer in our constitution, I dont understand how you can question if a law abiding citizen should have a certian right. Just remember its a double edge sword once you questioning an individuals rights due to a physical disability.

  34. avatar Fred says:

    Sure! They should be able to fly airplanes too! Duh!

  35. avatar FlamemcoD says:

    Constitutionally, they should be allowed. However, they must exercise extreme caution when determining whether to use the firearm or not. They have to disobey 2 rules of gun safety to use a gun in a defensive situation: know your target and what’s beyond it and never point a gun at something you’re not willing to destroy. Out and about, a blind person cannot fully determine either of those.

    1. avatar John in Ohio says:

      That’s similar to policy as opposed to law. The safety rules are only policy but shall not be infringed is “law”.

  36. avatar DJ says:

    Hell Yeah!

  37. avatar Chip in Florida says:

    “..Should Blind People Be Allowed to Carry Guns? ”

    Short answer…. Yes.

    Leme’splain:

    People with disabilities suffer more violence than people without. More properly people with disabilities are targets for violence more often than people without disabilities. In 2012 (I have an old report, sorry) men with disabilities suffered violence rates at about 60 per 1,000 adults compared to a rate of only 25 per 1,000 adults for men without visible disabilities. From the report… “The age-adjusted violent victimization rate for persons with disabilities (60.4 violent victimizations per 1,000) was more than twice the rate among persons without disabilities (22.3 violent victimizations per 1,000) in 2012”

    So with a risk of violence against their person that is as much as three times greater than a regular person why would you ever suggest disarming the disabled?

    Ideally a firearm allows you to dissuade/disengage an attacker at greater than arms-length away. But it works just about as well at distances less than arms-length too. A blind person putting a gun against an attacker at less than arms-length kinda makes knowing what’s beyond your target a really low priority.

  38. avatar The Watcher says:

    It is legal for stupid people to talk. Could you imagine the outrage if a higher-than-average IQ was required in order for a person to use his 1st Amendment Right to speak in public?
    For sure, a blind man is also covered by our Constitution, and I fully support his/her Constitutional Right to own and carry a firearm!

  39. avatar JW says:

    Of course they should be allowed to carry them – just like any other citizen. As with anyone else however I would urge them to use them responsibly. What exactly this means would vary based on the situation, but I see no reason why a blind person should not defend themselves with a handgun loaded with weak, reliably expanding cartridges (perhaps federal guard dog?) and used only when in contact with an assailant.

    Like anyone else they will also be responsible for the consequences of their actions, morally and legally.

  40. avatar dog collar says:

    Yes. The blind often have techniques to know their surroundings. If a reasonable blind person would use lethal force in said situation, then there should be no problem with it.

  41. avatar Kelly says:

    Missing is the thought about a close contact confrontation, like that between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. Vision was not needed to stop a person on top of the victim who was pounding said victim’s head into concrete.

  42. avatar Wally1 says:

    Should blind people have a right to carry?, Yes. Should this guy (who is blind) be in possession of a gun? That point is mute because he is a convicted felon and also he has a history of illegal drug use which precludes him from legal gun possession. My point is not an issue with him being blind, but that he is a criminal scumbag.

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