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By MD Matt

Apparently Jimmy Kimmel took some blind people to the range recently, had them shoot at targets — badly — and made fun of them. On national television. Watching the resulting outrage was like hearing that people are upset that Howard Stern made fun of his guests. At some point one has to ask what they thought would happen? Was it in poor taste to tell someone that they shot their guide dog? Sure. Was the entire production cheap humor? Well yes. So what? . . .

How many people laughed when Al Pacino drove a car in ‘Scent of a Woman’ (raises hand)? As a blind man myself who owns firearms and goes to the range regularly I’m happy to see Kimmel getting some yuks from the whole blind-with-guns bit. It’s funny. It’s not a public safety risk. I’m kind of offended that this was the best he could manage, but then you have to consider the source.

What does bother me is reading the follow-up commentary. “Blind people shouldn’t have guns.”  “That’s dangerous!”  “What do blind people need guns for anyway?”  “They’ll end up shooting bystanders if they’re allowed to carry a concealed weapon.”  “How can a blind person distinguish their target—assuming they can be trusted to carry a loaded firearm in the first place?”

Let’s deal with the ownership question first. I can own a car, a boat, a motorcycle, even a helicopter. The assumption is that possession of the item doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to use it. What’s the difference here? None. Lots of items are dangerous.  The idea that a blind person is inherently more likely to do something irresponsible is illogical. What, do they think I don’t know I can’t see? Do people think I’m not aware that bullets have the potential to kill—you know like cars, boats, helicopters…etc?

If I want to collect classic cars, sailboats, tilt-wing aircraft, or firearms that’s my right as a responsible adult. It’s also my responsibility to follow applicable law and common sense when employing those acquisitions. Blind people don’t have to “need” a gun—it’s enough for them to want one. What I use it for or don’t use it for is my business as long as it’s legal—the same as everyone else.

The question of usage is worth discussing for the sake of public awareness. Visually impaired people shoot guns every day.  Companies like Crimson Trace, Lasermax, and Insight manufacture lasers for handguns, rifles and shotguns that can be used to help spotters get a blind person on target. Several companies make devices that allow a spotter to designate a target remotely for a blind person. Many of my friends have become adept at the use of the MK I eyeball while lining up my range shots. Using proper safety precautions, blind people can enjoy firearms with zero risk to themselves or anyone else. Recreational shooting requires a bit of effort, but the experience is entirely accessible.

As for the idea that a blind person can’t carry a firearm for self-defense, all I can say is that ship sailed a long time ago. Several states –  notably Vermont, Wyoming, Alaska, and Arizona – don’t require any kind of skill-based assessment in order to carry a concealed weapon. Many others have unrestricted open carry. Blind people in those states have been able to carry firearms for years if not decades. The blatant absence of Blind Gunslingers Gone Wild™ proves that blind people can be trusted with firearms.

Much as in the case of recreational shooting, steps can be taken to minimize risks in a self-defense situation. Frangible ammunition, shot shells and low density birdshot reduce the likelihood of over penetration. Waiting until a threat is at contact distances ensures that the correct target is engaged. Proper training in firearm safety, emergency response, threat minimization, and self-defense ensures that the right choice is made in a crisis.

What I see here is fear, fear that blind people will make a worse decision than a sighted person in a moment of crisis. To which the only response is trust. Every day, millions of Americans get on the road trusting that everyone else, regardless of physical limitation, will drive responsibly. This is no different. Provided a blind person meets the legal requirements for firearm ownership, we have to trust that they will act responsibly with full awareness of their limitations.

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  1. OMG! A BLIND PERSON with a GUN!! He gonna KILL somebody!!!

    It’s exactly like saying a blind person with a cane is going to knock some po’boy DOWN on the street! BAN blind people! BAN white-tipped canes!!!

    • Actually, it’s RED tipped canes. The cane is white with a red tip at the end. And ah yeah … really dangerous weapon 🙂

  2. Remember, blind is a relative term. Some people are more “seeing impaired” than truly blind. No one should tell someone that has a hard time seeing that they can’t protect themselves, especially disabled people who might get harassed more often than a non-disabled person.

  3. As I recall for a long while they made cane guns and cane swords. I do think those found their way into the hands of the blind long before any anti was a tingle in their daddy’s nether regions. Why the big stink over it now?

  4. My wife is legally blind. Her vision is 20/200 corrected, meaning she sees only shapes beyond around ten feet. As Craig said in his post, “seeing impaired”. In her studio is an ancient baby Browning .25. She has demonstrated to me that she can place three in the x-ring at ten feet. She also knows the location of each of my weapons in the house, and their operation. I could only have hoped that Jimmy Kimmel had asked her onto his show.

    • Without corrective lenses my eyesight is 20/200 in one eye and 20/300 in the other. I have practiced shooting with my glasses off & while I can’t even see the sights on the gun (I superimpose the slide over the target) I have no problem keeping all my shots inside the 9 ring of a full sized silhouette target at 7′.

  5. What such an excersize ignores is the fact that a responsible person would say, “I can’t tell if that’s a rapist or an inflatable alligator. I’m not going to shoot it. That’s irresponsible.”

    • I see what you’re saying. My response is simply that if I don’t have direct contact or near direct contact with someone, then I wouldn’t take the shot—not that living in Maryland I’ll ever have a CCW. I know that shooting at someone 10+ feet away I can’t safely distinguish my target. I have enough range experience that I know my limitations and would adjust my actions accordingly. Put a blindfold on, get a nurf gun, and have someone mock attack you. I think you’ll find that designating a target isn’t that difficult.
      The other side of this that people forget sometimes is that a blind person has very few options if they are assaulted. I can’t effectively run at any great speed, a cane just isn’t adequate for rapid movement in an unfamiliar area. So I’m pretty much stuck with fighting back, yelling for help, and/or taking it. Maryland doesn’t allow me the use of a contact based stun gun (which would be my preferred self defense tool for safety and liability reasons.) I’m stuck with a folding knife, pepper spray, fists, or strong language.
      Beyond those points, we expect sighted people at night not to take shots they can’t responsibly engage. I don’t see the difference between a sighted person carrying a concealed weapon in near dark and a blind person carrying a firearm. My Buck fifty.

  6. When you can no longer laugh at the hilarious… you know you’re loosing it. I don’t know what’s more funny – blind people shooting guns effectively or Jimmy Kimmel making fun of people who encourage the blind that shooting guns is a good idea. You’re loosing it man…..

  7. My mom is legally blind. She and I went sky diving on her 88th birthday. She wants to go again next year on her 90th. She knows where dads glock 19 is and knows how to use it. She can make out shapes well enough to appear to be looking at you when conversing. I have no doubt she could hit a bad guy in the house. She’s not the best shot in the world and she can’t shoot more than a mag full till her arthritis hurts too much.
    You’re only as old, or blind as you let yourself be.

    Kimmel showed how dumb and ‘blind’ he is.

  8. Amen! I really don’t see what the big issue is. Whenever a person, sighted, blind, or somewhere in between, commits a crime, THAT is when government gets involved; not before. I cannot understand people who support individual rights in one breath and then try to deny the rights of others in the next. Prior to recent grumblings about it, I’ve never given it a thought. I’ve been around blind and nearly blind gun carriers throughout my life and it simply was never an issue. Heck, my eyesight is barely passable these days. Is someone going to try to disarm me as well? Good luck with that.

  9. This “new front” by the gun grabbers is pure propaganda. The blind are just another group to easily discriminate against in order to prove ‘the enlightened’ have a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. I had a bit of a heated discussion with someone about this last Sunday. I asked him to produce one instance when a blind person carrying a gun had committed a crime or hurt an innocent person. Of course he couldn’t name one. I then showed him this story on my smart phone:

    • At anonymous, Thanks. I appreciate the faith in my abilities. Actually, I’d rather take Morgan to the range than go on his show. While schooling him on national television would be deeply satisfying, he doesn’t strike me as a person who can be moved or who will entertain reasonable debate in front of a camera.

  10. I once had a 20/250 (uncorrected) GF who could not differentiate between a remote control and a 1911 at 10 feet. With glasses she could see just fine but the fear factor was the ‘bump in the night’. I built her a Glock 19 with 32 rnd mag, laser and white light and vertical fore-grip. The concept was that she’d just keep sending rounds as needed until the threat was diminished or the police arrived.

    We worked out verbal signals so that I could identify myself to her as friend and indicate my position.

    She was really quite a shot with corrective lenses, though legally blind without them.

    I also worked with a totally blind man who had been so since birth. It was difficult for him to understand visual orientation directions. This began from his desire for personal protection and my curiosity about his ability’s.

    He was able to light the body of the speaker in a room with a laser pointer with 100% accuracy. He never lit anyone but the speaker and was never off target. He did have issues if another person occluded the speaker which could always be a problem for the unsighted.

    His auditory acumen turned out to be such that he was able to determine that a person or object intervened his laser ‘shot’ and learned to delay or maneuver to account for this. It also turned out that he was so accurate in placing the laser on the upper chest of the speaker that he was unlikely to miss.

    We moved beyond the laser pointer and into a laser equipped handgun. He turned out to be better with that than the pointer alone.

    He was also able to pinpoint the sound of breathing at over 10′ and to differentiate the sound of a person breathing among as many as 4 people in a room and to name them. He could target each person based on the sound of their breathing alone.

    On the range he was able to orient the pistol safely one he’d been shown the parameters a single time.

    He never experience difficultly locating himself in strange houses, and on the range could always face roughly forward without assistance.

    He was able to differentiate and hit targets based on the noise they were making even if 4 targets all presented with a separate noise simultaneously.

    It’s not scientific, but I have little doubt he could differentiate between friend and foe at 10′ and deliver accurate fire to the voice area (upper chest and neck) readily with an unmodified pistol, just based on breathing alone.

    He did have a tendency to point the gun toward anyone who spoke, but using a Glock we were able to determine that he didn’t fire on them, only oriented the gun on them as the loudest target.

    If one entered his house and was not able to respond to his demands in a familiar voice or with reasonable explanation I have little doubt he could have put effective fire on the speaker without collateral damage.

    We did live fire with him and found the laser exercises bore out; he could shoot a man effectively at 20′ if he could hear him and use that sound to choose the target. His accuracy was poor but given 16 tries he would often effect more than 9 hits on a stationary target.

    Closer, at 7′ he could achieve virtually 100% accuracy on a ‘noisy’ target.

    I submit all targets are either dead or ‘noisy’ having been shot multiple times.

    My experience is that a completely blind person is capable of effective self defense with a handgun.

    • That was a great post with good information.

      Though you said you put a vertical foregrip on a Glock 19, wondering if you bothered to get a tax stamp for it?

    • This has been my experience as well.
      I learned to shoot with a Remington 870 equipped with a lasermax light and laser combo. After that I progressed to a Ruger GP100 equipped with a crimson trace lasergrip. After that I used a rail mount insight laser/light unit on a variety of semiautomatics chambered in .45acp, .9mm, .10mm, .40S&W, .22lr, .357sig…etc. In every case the challenge is teaching the blind person how to properly align the gun so that it points dead on in front of them…essentially point shooting. After that it’s just a matter of practicing correcting for recoil since each gun is different and will require a different compensation to return to “zero.”
      Excellent information here, thank you sir.

  11. well, I read the headline all wrong. My first reaction to “blind people with guns” was – you’ll put your eye out!

  12. I read an article once about derringers where the author specified that due to the nature of a derringer, in a DGU it would either be used at bad breath distance or in direct contact during a physical struggle.
    As in shove muzzle against bad guy while grappling, pull trigger. A blind man would be perfectly capable of that.

    Blind people compensate with their other senses quite well.

  13. people don’t understand that when you are born or stuck with a handicapp for the rest of your life, it may take time to get used to but quickly just becomes part of your life. A year ago I was walking with a cane I was 20 years old and thought I’d never be able to run again and that my condition was only going to get worse. I acknowledge what I thought was the truth and kept living my life. Being crippled was just my life, I’d love to make jokes about my condition I didn’t see it as distasteful it was slice of life comedy relevant to my life. I talked to other handicap people and they felt the same way. Handicapp people are not miserable people, if they were so miserable about their life they had they’d kill themselves. Instead they have a life a lot like your’s or mine from which with it’s own little quarks to it. People living with handicaps get over it and so should you.

  14. What I don’t get is how the blind community is not freaking out about this.
    The implications of kimmel’s ‘demonstration’ are horribly offensive:
    Blind people are stupid and cannot be trusted to make responsible decisions.

    Where are the disabled people’s advocate groups??
    Why are they not ripping Kimmel a new one??

    If you did the same thing to offend the gay community or Hispanic, or black or native American; you would be bbq’ed like baby back ribs!

    • No idea.
      I distinctly remember the National federation for the blind protesting the movie Mr. Mcgoo, so you would think they’d be all over this. As I said in the article, my only complaint is that Kimmel didn’t do a better job with the satire—which I suppose makes me a bad blind person in someone’s book. The local range officer regularly asks my spotter and me who’s driving home, as well as messing with the people who come in to tell them that some guy with a cane is on the firing line—it’s become kind of a sport among the employees there. Based on that, you can probably guess how I feel about the matter.
      When I began shooting five years ago, I thought I’d have to fight through a lot of fear and ignorance. I can honestly say that the local gun culture didn’t even seem to care, other than to make sure I knew what I was doing. It was a pleasant surprise and is one of many reasons I try to give them as much of my business as I can manage.

  15. I was born legally blind in my right eye (I only have a tiny bit of peripheral vision in that eye) and with 20/90 vision in my left eye with correction. I also have a few other eye related issues in the left eye that makes things difficult for me. I’ve been told by entire life that I could not do things, that my disability meant that I was somehow subhuman and should be discriminated against (my severe dyslexia and dysgraphia didn’t exactly help things). Instead of this discouraging me this discrimination and mistreatment inspired me to become what I am today. Despite some activities and tasks being significantly more difficult for me, I give it my all and more often than not thrive. Shooting is one of those activities. I may not be able to get perfect accuracy with iron sights at midrange but give me an optic or target at close range and I’m as good as you can expect for someone at my experience level.

  16. Even a person with no eyes at all can jam a S&W Model 65 into the midsection of a mugger and ventilate his scumbag ass six ways from Sunday.

  17. The cane is RED tipped. The body of it is white with a red tip. Known world wide that the person is blind who has one. And yeah … really dangerous weapon 🙂


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