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September 11, 2013

Field of Dreams, State of Delusion

Patrick W. Allen

There was a time when Hollywood led us to believe that dead baseball legends could walk freely throughout the cornfields of Iowa. The reality of what’s currently unfolding in that state makes Field of Dreams look like a historical documentary.


Iowa Grants Public Gun Permits To The Blind


If you’re the kind of person who thinks people should be able to see what they’re shooting at, you might want to stay out of the state of Iowa.


You may recall that in January, shortly after the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, Stevie Wonder spoke out about the need for tighter gun laws, telling CNN’s Piers Morgan, “Imagine me with a gun. It’s just crazy.”


Well, not crazy to some sheriffs in Iowa. Many of them believe that it violates the Americans with Disabilities Act to deny gun permits based on blindness. Furthermore, there are those who say the sheriffs have a strong legal argument:


Refusing to issue permits to people with visual impairments could very well violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits people with disabilities from being treated differently under the law. Likewise, unlike driving, which is considered a privilege, gun ownership is generally understood to be a constitutional right, making it difficult to impose limitations on it. In Iowa, people with visual impairments are already allowed to own guns privately, so the question at hand is whether there is a different safety concern when it comes to letting them carry guns in public.


Fortunately for those of us who feel this kind of philosophy might lead to certain, um, danger to the public, The Des Moines Register reports that not all sheriffs agree with this interpretation. For example, the Dubuque County sheriff has said he would not issue a permit to someone who is blind. And some other states do consider vision when issuing gun permits.  However, Iowa’s Cedar County sheriff believes that the visually impaired can be properly trained. [1]


But can we count on proper training? The Register also reports that while training is mandated for everyone permitted to carry a gun in public, “that requirement can be satisfied through an online course that does not include any hands-on instruction or a shooting test.”


But wait, there’s more. Good aim is not the only thing to worry about if you see an Iowan carrying a firearm in public. The Register notes that sheriffs have faced other problems with Iowa’s permissive gun laws, such as obstacles determining whether an applicant has mental health problems and an inability to deny permits to sex offenders.


It’s a sad commentary on our country that the right to own a lethal weapon is deemed more important than its safe use.


Iowa GOP Official Resigns - Party Is Too Conservative and Dysfunctional


Citing reports by The Huffington Post and The Washington Post, Chad Brown, Polk County, Iowa, GOP co-chair, has resigned his position with the political party and declared himself an Independent citing numerous reasons of frustration, disdain and disgust in a letter published by The Des Moines Register.


The full text of Mr. Brown’s resignation letter was printed in the Iowa newspaper. [2]


Mr. Brown told The Register in an interview that his decision was spurred by the influence of the Christian Right and National Rifle Association within the GOP, as well as Rep. Steve King’s (R., Iowa) controversial comments last month comparing young, undocumented immigrants to drug mules. Mr. Brown also took issue with the Republican Party’s refusal to acknowledge climate change and global warming, telling The Register that the GOP “has declared war on science and common sense.”


Having read Mr. Brown’s letter of resignation only adds to this writer’s confusion as to why GOP defections are not happening more often. As the Republican Party fractures and splinters into warring factions, one would think common sense would prevail more frequently. That more moderate Republicans would also identify the sinking ship and make a decision to either bail like hell to fix internal issues or jump ship and abandon what is too far gone to be saved. Mr. Brown, sensing that no other options were available, chose the latter.


What is needed, however, is the courage of one man acting locally to spawn a movement by reasonable thinking and somewhat intelligent Republicans nationwide to distance themselves from right-wing conservatives unwilling or unable to empathize with anyone that doesn’t share the narrow, restrictive views of the current Republican Party platform as dictated by special interests and vocal radicals.


Until that happens, which will likely be later rather than sooner, Independents and Democrats will gladly recover and welcome each individual, one at a time.


Congratulations, Mr. Brown, on your declaration of independence.



[1] Des Moines Register

[2] Des Moines Register


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