Tag Archives: sheriff’s office

Iowa law enforcement debates granting gun permits to blind people

Iowa law enforcement officials are debating the wisdom of granting gun permits to blind people.

The Des Moines Register reports Iowa law doesn’t allow sheriffs to deny a permit to carry a gun in public based on physical ability.

Some sheriffs have been granting gun permits to people with visual impairments while others have been denying them. Blind people and other Iowans can obtain the permits for carrying a weapon in public because of changes to state law that took effect in 2011.

Jane Hudson with Disability Rights Iowa said keeping legally blind people from obtaining weapon permits would violate the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act.

Some other states, including Nebraska, require anyone applying for a gun permit to provide proof of their visual ability by supplying a driver’s license or doctor’s statement.

Hudson said she thinks someone could successfully challenge Nebraska’s vision restriction because federal law requires states to analyze a situation individually before denying a service.

“The fact that you can’t drive a car doesn’t mean you can’t go to a shooting range and see a target,” Hudson said.

Polk County, Iowa, officials said they have issued weapons permits to people who can’t drive legally because of vision problems at least three times. Sheriffs in Jasper, Kossuth and Delaware counties say they’ve also granted permits to Iowans with severe visual impairments.

“It seems a little strange, but the way the law reads, we can’t deny them (a permit) just based on that one thing,” said Sgt. Jana Abens, a spokeswoman for the Polk County sheriff’s office, referring to a visual disability.

It’s not clear how many people with visual impairments have permits to carry weapons in Iowa because no one collects that information.

Delaware County Sheriff John LeClere questioned whether visually impaired people should be able to obtain these weapons permits.

“At what point do vision problems have a detrimental effect to fire a firearm? If you see nothing but a blurry mass in front of you, then I would say you probably shouldn’t be shooting something,” LeClere said.

Even Patrick Clancy, superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, said guns may be a rare exception to his philosophy.

“Although people who are blind can participate fully in nearly all life’s experiences, there are some things, like the operation of a weapon, that may very well be an exception,” Clancy said.

But in Cedar County, Iowa, blind people would find a welcoming audience if they applied for a weapons permit. Sheriff Warren Wethington has a legally blind daughter, who is 19 and plans to apply for a permit when she’s eligible at 21.

“If sheriffs spent more time trying to keep guns out of criminals’ hands and not people with disabilities, their time would be more productive,” Wethington said.

Louisiana sheriff’s office arrests gay men under invalidated sodomy law

Although sex in public and solicitation of “unnatural carnal copulation” for money are illegal in Louisiana, neither element was part of these 12 cases, and most of the men were arrested after agreeing to have sex away from the park at a private residence, District Attorney Hillar Moore III told the newspaper.

Moore said, “From what I’ve seen of these cases, legally, we found no criminal violation.”

Metro Councilman John Delgado said Sheriff Sid Gautreaux owes an apology to the men arrested and the entire parish.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that a Texas sodomy law was invalid. Louisiana was among nine states which had such laws. Richard Ieyoub, then attorney general, said the high court’s ruling made Louisiana’s law unenforceable.

However, “crime against nature” remains part of Louisiana law, punishable by up to five years at hard labor and a $2,000 fine. The criminal code accessible through the Legislature’s website states that “Crime against nature is the unnatural carnal copulation by a human being with another of the same sex or opposite sex or with an animal.”

Gautreaux has told the Capital City Alliance, an LGBT group, that deputies “will no longer be enforcing this law until the courts or the legislature removes it.

The sheriff’s office sent a statement to the newspaper saying it “should have taken a different approach” to worries about park safety, the newspaper reported.

“We will consult with others in the legislative and judicial branches to see what can be done to remove this law from the criminal code that each deputy receives and to also find alternative ways to deter sexual and lewd activity from our parks,” it said.

The sheriff’s office said it only meant to respond to calls from parents, park officials and members of the public about safety concerns at parks.

“When we receive reports of public masturbation, sex and other lewd activity in a park where children are playing, we must take these concerns seriously,” the statement says. “Our intent was honorable. Our approach, however, is something we must evaluate and change.”

In an email to the sheriff’s office, Delgado wrote that its response on Sunday sensationalized the matter by using terms like “lewd conduct” and “public masturbation” and suggesting that children were present during the arrests.

“The newspaper article makes it quite clear that nothing of the sort occurred in these 12 arrests,” Delgado says. “These men were arrested even though they were innocent of any crime.”

Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks said the office has no record of being informed that the District Attorney’s Office would not pursue charges in the cases.

On the Web…

Criminal code: http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/law.aspx?d=78695