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Warren J. Blumenfeld Headshot

Iowa Gun Law Places Us All in the Crosshairs

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While a small posse of extreme right-wing ideologues have ultimately fulfilled their campaign pledges to their red-district constituents to close shop on the federal government, even months prior, through intransigence and mayhem, they have successfully stalled any sort of legislative action on vital domestic issues, like the high jobless rate, immigration reform, global warming, renewable energy independence, collapsing infrastructures, unacceptable delays in military family services, voter suppression, and tragic gun violence, among many others, that plague our nation.

During the media's near obsessive fixation on the Donnybrook among brawling "Representatives," a new law in Iowa recently went into effect and seems to have glided stealth fashion beneath the radar of many national outlets of the Fourth Estate. As reported in Iowa, recent changes in that state's laws prohibit government officials from denying individuals gun permits on the basis of physical ability, including those with low vision and total blindness, unless they have prior felony convictions.

Proponents, including many legislators who sponsored the new law, argue that to do anything else would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (signed into law in 1990), the Second Amendment of the Constitution, and the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

As someone who has experienced relatively low visual acuity and limited depth perception following four surgical procedures, I question whether the lawmakers were genuinely concerned about upholding the civil and human rights of people with disabilities, or whether their motivation centered on political ideology dictating no controls on gun ownership except for documented past criminal convictions.

I wonder how many of these Iowa legislators actively favored the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I wonder how many of them actively support women's reproductive freedoms guaranteed by the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision (1973). I wonder how many of them would have voted for the Civil Rights Bill in 1964 and the Voting Rights Bill in 1965 had they served in the U.S. Congress, and how many of them actually oppose the piercing through the heart of that same Voting Rights Law by the current Supreme Court this past summer.

So I ask again, is this law really about protections against discrimination, or rather, is this primarily about politics?

Would carrying a fire arms had been the better option for, Lindwood, a blind man who heard shots ring out around him in the atrium of Building 197 at the Washington Navy Yard, or rather, would it be better for more of us to act like the courageous Omar Grant who came to his aid telling his colleague "I'm not going to leave you. We're going to get out of here." And indeed they did!

I suppose brandishing a weapon (a knife) worked well for Andrey Hepburn in her starring role as Susy Hendrix, a blind women, who in the film Wait Until Dark, subdued and killed a thug who broke into her apartment by smashing the light bulbs and unplugging the refrigerator light, thus plunging the scene into darkness and, thereby, neutralizing the attacker's advantage. Who knows, she might have had more immediate success if she had hidden a hand gun in her bedroom night stand or an AK-47 among tuna cans, rice, and non-dairy coffee creamer in her kitchen pantry. But tell me, how many real-life folks with visual disabilities find themselves in this type of Hollywood-contrived drama with successful outcomes like that of Audrey?

It makes about as much sense to grant the right of a person with significant visual limitations to own a gun as it does for us to drive a Mack Truck! Yes, it is true that our Constitution gives no one an automatic right to drive a vehicle as it does to own and carry a firearm. However, avid Second Amendment enthusiasts often neglect to acknowledge a certain phrase written into the statute that reads: "A well regulated militia... "

Unfortunately, the Iowa law fails to abide by this standard, which further places us all in the crosshairs.