It seems that when Iowa changed its laws regarding public carrying of guns, the state automatically granted blind Iowans the same right to pack a chiller as the rest of the state's citizens. To do otherwise would violate the Americans With Disabilities Act.
This confluence of two well-intentioned laws, one designed to enable the physically unfortunate to enjoy access to the full joys of an American life and the another to enable trigger-happy Iowa paranoids to carry a heater everywhere they are fantasizing that threats are lurking, means that Iowa authorities are forced to grant gun permits to people to whom they would deny driver's licenses.
Gun-toting visually challenged Iowans will not have to have their guns painted white, nor will they have to have their guide dogs trained to point before they shoot.
The new law applies only to blind Iowans who want to carry a gun to church or the mall with them. Blind Iowans, along with blind drunk Iowans, have been able to blast away from hunting blinds for years, and many a deer or bear-shaped bush or a low cloud that resembled a flock of ducks has been filled full of lead by a happy, optically challenged Iowa hunter without any laws being broken.
Still, the thought of being mistaken for a mugger or a terrorist by a blind, gat-wielding resident made me hesitant to return to Iowa, a state I was already hesitant to return to because I have been there already. A quick chat with Wayne LaPierre, head honcho of the NRA, was enough to get my head on straight on the subject of blind people strapping.
"Don't worry about a thing," LaPierre told me. "Ninety-nine point nine percent of blind gun owners are responsible blind gun owners."
But why would a blind person want to carry a gun? In a self-defense situation, wouldn't he be just as likely to shoot another person, himself, or just a nearby mannequin or bus stop sign as his attacker?
"Have you ever seen that movie 'The Silence of the Lambs' where Jodi Foster is trapped in a darkened cellar with the it-puts-the-lotion-on-its-skin guy? He's got night-vision goggles and she's totally blind. Yet, when he makes a single noise, she's able to whirl around quickly and put a bullet right through his serial-killing skull. A lot of people don't know that movie is based on an actual fictional occurrence. So there's your answer."
Wayne had to go then, because he had a seminar to lead about how armed wet-nurses could prevent infant kidnappings, but I'm still not putting Iowa on my schedule of places I need to visit, despite the fact that many Iowans, like many Midwesterners in general, are among the nicest English-speaking people you will ever meet. The problem with Iowa even before they started arming blind people is its climate. The state gets its summers from Mississippi, its winters from Manitoba, its droughts from Somalia and its floods from Bangladesh. No matter when you go there, it's ninety percent sure the weather is going to be lousy.
And now if you see an Iowa beggar wearing a sign that says "Blind" and you notice he's reading a newspaper, my advice is not to object, or get close enough to see if it's in Braille. He could have a rocket in his pocket.