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Sure, You’re Blind but You Can Have a Gun Too

Before getting down to the details of this post, I need to preface by spelling out a couple of things. First, I promise this is not political. Second, everything you’re going to read is absolutely true.

A bit of personal background might be in order. I grew up in a day and time when gun ownership was not a big deal. All of my male relatives kept long guns, properly secured, in their homes for hunting. Fall might have been football season in other parts of the country but, in the Great Plains, fall was the season for duck hunting.

The opening day of duck season was all but an officially-excused absence from school for any male, pretty much regardless of age, if you were eighteen or under and from work if you were older.

Even though my visual-acuity was probably about 15/200, meaning that I could see at fifteen feet what someone with normal vision could see at 200, Dad took me out of school when I was eleven, along with my eight-year-old brother, so that we could experience this rite of passage. Clearly, I wasn’t going to be shooting any ducks; however, he didn’t want my lack of vision to exclude me from the experience that almost every other boy in the State was having.

The three of us drove several hours to a spot in the western part of the State that Dad had leased from a local farmer for hunting and spent the night in an abandoned farm house, really a shack, where we spent the night in sleeping bags without running water or electricity so we could be sure to get an early start the next morning. For those of you who have been spared this experience, it’s critical that you’re in the duck blind thirty minutes before daybreak so that you don’t waste a minute of the fun.

This particular morning, it was about twenty degrees, and the wind was blowing about twenty-five miles-per-hour. The only thing we had for breakfast was an apple and some water from a Thermos. It was so gusty and windy that, only a few seconds after I had taken my first bite of the apple, the spot I had just bitten was filled with dust.

If this is your first time to enjoy this experience, it’s important to keep repeating, “This is really fun. This is really fun.”

I know countless fathers and sons look back on that first hunting trip as a wonderful male bonding experience. My younger brother enjoyed every minute and became a life-long hunting enthusiast.

Not me. I’m glad I had the experience once, but, even if I had 20/20 vision tomorrow, I’d have no desire to do it again. To paraphrase the playwright George S. Kaufman, “Try everything in life once, except incest and duck hunting.”

Later that afternoon, when it became apparent that the ducks weren’t going to cooperate and put-in an appearance, Dad gave both my brother and me our first lessons on the proper techniques for handling a loaded rifle. We each were given an opportunity to fire the gun a couple of times, him at some cans perched on a large log and me at the log itself, something I could see. It wasn’t anything like what I thought it would be from watching movies – the rifle’s recoil nearly tore off my right shoulder, but this was an experience I’m very glad I had.

I’m telling all of this to set the scene for what I want to say next: there are some blind people who have very different relationships with firearms. This is the reason I promised in the first paragraph that “everything you’re going to read is absolutely true.”

The first of these guys I met when I had dinner with him and his wife some years ago. I knew his wife to be a delightful person and, so, I assumed her husband would be reasonably pleasant too. Wrong! He was morose, moody, and a real jerk. I struggled to get him engaged in conversation, but the only thing he wanted to talk about was the revolver he had just purchased against home invasions.

Did I mention that both he and his wife were totally blind?

In the same way that some sighted people are blessed with an unerring sense of direction while others can get lost in their own neighborhood, blind and visually impaired people vary greatly in their spatial sense. In walking to the restaurant that night, I’d noticed that this guy’s spatial sense was so appallingly bad that I couldn’t imagine how he could hit an intruder if he were standing six feet in front of him.

To be technical, the second gun owner wasn’t totally blind; he had some vision. It wasn’t very much, but he still had some. He wasn’t remotely close to being able to get a driver’s license, so you get the idea.

He was much more of an extravert than my first example. He lived in a state where it was not uncommon for people to openly carry their handguns in public, and he saw no reason why he shouldn’t as well.

He claimed that, before leaving home, he grabbed his white cane and stuck his gun in his pocket. I know the part about the cane was true; I’m pretty sure he had a registered firearm; I can only hope he was joking about taking them out together but I’m not entirely sure.

He wasn’t one of the more emotionally mature people I’ve ever known.

Gun safety, at least in the case of these two guys, apparently didn’t include the ability to see the target.

Remember that part about the eleven-year-old me struggling to shoot a log from fifteen feet away with my lousy vision? That’s the only silver lining to these last two stories: I couldn’t hit the log, and, hopefully, their aim isn’t any better than mine.

This said, you may be relieved to learn that Club VIBES doesn’t have any plans for excursions to local gun shows or trips to nearby shooting ranges. But, then again, you never know.

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