Blindness And Shooters


Blindness And Shooters

     I am wondering how my blindness will play into the next part of my life? I killed someone in what I feel is self-defense.

     Last night at about 2:30 am we woke to the sounds of some one breaking into our home. Dogs barking, security system going off I rocketed out of bed. I pulled the plug to the whaling alarm.

     Gun in hand I headed to the living room where I could hear the patio door about to cave in.

     My daughter, behind closed door asked what was going on? I told her to stay in her room. My wife was getting on the phone as I closed our bedroom door behind me.

     With a crack and splintering he was in.

     I step into the living room, jack a shell into the short-barrel 12 gage. I wanted him to hear the pump action, know I was armed. I said, "STOP."

     He kept coming, fast.
I shoot, once, twice.

     Ears ringing, I hear him on the floor. I get a strike to my legs. I shoot down, backup, fire again.

     Then it was quiet.

e-mail responses to

**1. "WOW. Is that provoker true? I hope not. But is sure is an interesting
scenario. I have so many reactions to it myself. Firstly my husband was a
solicitor for 22 years in a large country town before becoming a Magistrate
in another large country town. Both became city status while we were living
in them. So I have lived with the law for years and that evokes a response
that you may not get from others. Also, the use of guns is not acceptable
in Australia. We are going through a long 'rash' of break ins and bashings
of vulnerable people in WA at the moment. The elderly and disabled are
being targeted and as a result our politicians have been lobbied intensively
by the elderly and the press to increase the penalties for the 'home

For the first time in history, just about, the Judges have come out and
publicly criticized the Attorney General who is an arrogant man and who was
a layer, but as a politician now has little to do with the law except to
make them. I won't go on here as this is not entirely related to your

My final reaction is that you would have been charged with murder some years
ago, but would not have been found guilty. The pressure is on the law
makers to have more rights for the homeowner and less for the intruder, so
today you may not be charged with murder. You may be charged with some
lesser crime, but again I doubt if you would be found guilty.

That is the most obvious outcome, but how do you and your family live with
all the spin offs that occur from a major event in life, like that. And at
this point I do not have time to consider just what those might be, but I do
know that when a rock gets dropped into the pond, the ripples spread far and
wide for a very long time."

I did tell your provoker to my husband and his response was you would
probably get off. I asked if you would be charged with something and he
said it was possible. Would depend. Not sure what on, but my guess is, on
the maturity of the senior officer in charge of the case.
So your provoker asked how it would affect the rest of your life. My guess
is you have to adjust to having killed someone. You might find you enjoyed
it, that it gave you a buzz. Or you could get full of guilts and end up
depressed. Your wife might hate you for having enjoyed it and leave you.
Then there would be a huge custody battle for the daughter. After you are
both broke having spent all your money fighting over custody, you might
kidnap your daughter and kill her and yourself.
What do you think?"

Mr. Glynn wrote in with his own thoughts: "I don't know if Rose has told you, but I am a lawyer. I qualified at the law
school at University of Adelaide in South Australia about 1000 years ago and
I have worked in WA since 1970. I hold an appointment as a magistrate (the
bottom rung of the judge's ladder) and Albany is my district.

Your question is interesting in that it reflects a current social phenomena.

Australia, unlike the USA, is generally an anti-gun community. There are
very strict, nation wide restrictions on possession of firearms here, and a
lot of types of firearms are absolutely banned. All of this was in place to
a limited extent up to 1995, but has moved forward since then in reaction to
the firearm killing of 30 people by a nutter named Bryant at Port Arthur in

Like the USA, Australia is experiencing a rise in violent, home invasion and
robbery type crime. Some States, WA included, has had to confront their
inadequate laws relating to defense of person and property. In this State
the law has been changed to better protect the person who uses reasonable
force to defend himself, his family or his property. WA has followed the
common law formula of "reasonable force, not being excessive in the
circumstances". The problem with that approach is that it involves
consideration of 2 factual elements, what is reasonable and what is
justified by the nature of the invasion. Because they are factual
considerations, they are questions for a jury to decide. The result is that
in any situation where the reaction of the person defending himself is in
question, that person is charged with an offence, usually manslaughter, for
a jury to test his response to the situation.

In Australia, your fictional person would probably be charged, either with
murder or manslaughter, and thereby put to his defence.

I personally see that as a problem, in that it can cause a huge expense to
the accused person and a waste of court time and effort, but I am not sure
what is a proper alternative.

Like the USA our court processes, particularly criminal processes, are
adversarial and not the inquisitorial processes that are used in parts of
Europe. (Example; France, and the way that Princess Diana's death was dealt
with there.) In the USA you still use a Grand Jury in some instances, which
is an inquisitorial process. In Australia we still have a committal process
in some instances, also an inquisitorial process. But neither goes close to
the inquisition that happens in France and other European countries. In the
case you are giving as your question, perhaps an inquisitorial process,
where the issue was not just the strength of the prosecution case, might be

I doubt that there is a process that will be right all of the time.

**2. "The use of a gun for purposes of self-defense by a blind person is
certainly an interesting question. However, the legal issues
contained in Robert's hypothetical are extremely complex. As you
read my thoughts, keep in mind the white cane laws which have
overrule court rulings that a driver was not liable for hitting a
blind person because a "reasonable blind person would not be
walking alone," or crossing a particular street because a
"reasonable blind person" would not cross the street without help.
Without the benefit of the white cane laws, such backwards court
rulings might still be the norm, and such attitudes might still be
encountered by a blind person who uses a gun for self-defense.
While I will endeavor to explore the hypothetical issues related to
blindness, I must first comment on the general legal rights
pertaining to self-defense,.

First, it should be mentioned that the homeowner is violating
Federal law and faces a 5 year mandatory sentence without plea
bargaining or parole for possession of a sawed-off shotgun. So,
the homeowner (blind or not) is going off to Federal prison for 5
years. The felony possession of an illegal firearm also greatly
complicates the issue as to what charges might be lodged against
the homeowner. Since the writer of the hypothetical probably did
not intend the complications, I will generally ignore the fact that
the shotgun is sawed-off. I think he intended the homeowner to
have a "riot gun," which is a shotgun with a short factory barrel
of about 18 inches.

Regardless of the disability status of the homeowner, the legal
ramifications of the shooting would depend on the laws of the
jurisdiction involved. In some states a homeowner has the right to
use deadly force on a intruder who has broken into the home. In
other states the homeowner can only use deadly force if the
homeowner is in fear of death or great bodily injury. There might
also be legal consequences if a homeowner did not retreat when
he/she could have, or in the case of a homeowner who continued to
use deadly force after the homeowner was no longer in reasonable
fear of death or great bodily injury. There would also be legal
ramifications in those states and localities which restrict the
ownership of shotguns.

In considering the issue of blindness and self-defense, I think
that we should first recognize the basic principle that blindness
does not rob a person of the right to defend oneself. From that
basic principle, the issue gets much more complicated.

The relevant questions are as follows:

1. Does the ownership and/or use of a gun by a blind person
automatically connote recklessness?

2. Can a blind person reasonably use a gun in the course of self-

**3. What are the specific instances in which the use of a gun by a
blind person for self-defense is reasonable under the
circumstances? Is a blind person held to a "reasonable blind
person" standard of what constitutes fear of death or great bodily
injury? In other words, if a reasonable sighted person would
visually discern that he/she was no longer threatened with death or
great bodily injury, is a blind person held to a different standard
if the blind person continued to use deadly force?

Of course, a complete discussion of these three questions would
occupy several law review articles.

So, with that qualification, does the ownership and/or use of a gun
by a blind person automatically connote recklessness?

I would guess that most people, including some blind persons, would
answer this question in the affirmative. However, I would strongly
disagree. I believe that a blind person can own and fire guns,
provided that he or she takes the appropriate precautions. Like
any other shooter, a blind person must be sure that he/she is
knowledgeable in the safe operation of the firearm, and is shooting
in a safe location which has an adequate backdrop. Basically, I
believe this means the use of a competent sighted person as a
guide, unless the blind person has access to a secure and enclosed
shooting area.

If you disagree with the notion that a blind person can own and
operate a gun in a safe and legal fashion, consider the
implications for issues such as car ownership by blind persons, or
the rental of a car by a blind person. Gun ownership and/or use
may be a difficult example, but to hold that a blind person is
automatically incapable of owning and/or using a gun is to reject
the precept that a blind person has equal rights and is capable of
competing on terms of equality through the use of alternative
techniques. This does not mean that a blind person will be a
champion marksman, but neither will a blind person be a champion
race car driver. Yet, a blind person can own a car, and I would
maintain, a gun. However, this notion may be tested in states
which require gun training and testing as a condition to the
purchase, concealment, or ownership of a gun.

The next question is whether a blind person can reasonably use a
gun in the course of self-defense. Once having established that a
blind person is entitled to defend him or herself, and that a blind
person can own and/or use a gun, it logically follows that a blind
person might be entitled to use a gun in the course of self-

The third and by far most difficult question is what are the
specific instances in which the use of a gun by a blind person for
self-defense is reasonable under the circumstances, and whether a
blind person is held to a different standard. This is where the
question gets really complicated. The law does allow for
consideration of differences between a victim and an attacker. For
instance, an average-sized man would not be allowed to use deadly
force against another average-sized man who was swinging a fist at
him. However, a small woman might be allowed to use deadly force
on a large man who was hitting her with his fists. Likewise, a
court might hold that a blind person was within his/her rights to
use deadly force against an intruder who was shouting, "I have a
gun and I am going to kill you," even though the intruder was
actually unarmed.

As for the hypothetical, what if the intruder was a small deaf girl
who broke into the home to steal the daughter's vast collection of
beanie babies? If this is the case, the issue might become a
question of whether the mistake was reasonable under the
circumstances. Assuming that the homeowner was in a state that
allowed a homeowner to shoot an intruder and did not impose a duty
to first attempt to retreat, the homeowner might have been allowed
to fire the first two shots. Keep in mind that some police
officers have gotten off manslaughter charges for killing children
who were holding toy guns in the dark. In the other states,
regardless of blindness, the homeowner is probably going to go to
jail for some form of manslaughter or murder. Indeed, here is
where the homeowner's blindness may start to hurt him before the
jury, if the jury believes that a reasonable blind person would
have retreated into a locked bedroom. Remember that the homeowner
has a shotgun at the ready, has a wife calling 911, has an alarm
system which has sounded, and more than one dog is barking. Help
should be on the way. Even if criminal charges in this situation
were not filed, the homeowner is going to be hit with a massive
civil damages lawsuit. The 4 shots from the sawed-off shotgun, the
availability of a locked room, the access to a phone, the barking
dogs and sounding alarm system would all be raw meat before a civil
jury, and also before a criminal jury. In addition, the fourth
shot would probably merit manslaughter charges, unless the blind
person had a reasonable reason to believe that there was a
continuing threat.

Now, let's suppose that the intruder is a large drooling
pathological killer armed with a huge carving knife left over from
Thanksgiving. In such a case, as discussed above, in most states
a homeowner would be allowed to fire the first two or three shots.
However, the homeowner had the option to retreat, so in some states
the homeowner would again be going to jail. As for the fourth
shot, the homeowner backed up and fired. This is problematic even
in the case of the pathological killer. It might be different if
the intruder screamed that he was going to "kill the homeowner and
his entire family." In such a case, the offensive action might be
excused. However, in the case of a pathological killer, a jury and
news media would probably be very sympathetic to the homeowner, and
probably even more so because of his blindness. It would also make
a difference as to where the homeowner lived. For instance, a
jury would probably let the homeowner off in New Mexico, but the
homeowner might be in big trouble in New York. The homeowner might
have been in a better legal and public relations position had he
fired a warning shot, provided that he had done so in a safe

So, what can be learned from the discussion of this hypothetical?
Well, for one thing, if it is not reasonable for a sighted person
to charge into a room to confront an intruder, than it is probably
not going to be reasonable for a blind person to do the same thing. If the sighted person would have seen a small deaf girl who was
after beanie babies, than a blind person who shoots the little girl
is in a lot of trouble. However, if the intruder was the
pathological killer, than in most states not requiring retreat, a
blind person would probably be excused for firing the first,
second, and third shots. However, there might still be problems
with the 4th shot because of the failure to retreat, or if a
sighted person would have perceived the danger as being over. In
addition, even the pathological killers surviving family could go
out and hire a lawyer to file a civil lawsuit, though a civil suit
would be an uphill battle given that the intruder was a
pathological killer, especially in a conservative state such as New

Some other issues should be addressed. For one, I assume that the
blind homeowner chose a shotgun because of the wide spread of the
shot, and the lack of penetration that characterizes a shotgun
blast. It would probably be foolish for a blind person to use a
high-powered rifle or handgun for self-defense, considering that
the fired bullet might pass through several walls and kill a
neighbor down the street. This is an important factor when
considering a gun and bullet combination for self-defense, and even
more so for a blind person. I believe that it would be reckless
and negligent for a blind person to use a .357 magnum for self-
defense, unless the person was a skilled shooter and miles from the
nearest neighbor. While a 12 gage shotgun may seem like a good
answer, as might a safety slug for the .357 (a type of exploding
bullet with little penetration), it should be kept in mind that
prosecutors, juries, and the media do not like exotic firearms and
bullets. Twelve gage shotguns and exploding bullets are highly
lethal, and not very forgiving of mistakes. Worse yet, the
homeowner's use of an illegal twelve gage sawed-off shotgun places
him in an even less sympathetic position with the media,
prosecutors, and any civil or criminal jury.

So, what is the bottom line? If a blind person chooses to use a
gun for self-defense, he/she should first think carefully through
the issues, and consider the prudent selection of a gun and bullet
combination. Also, like any other gun owner, he/she should store
the gun and ammunition in a safe and legal fashion. Most
importantly, he or she should be trained to safely use the gun, and
be knowledgeable of Federal, state and local laws pertaining to
when a person can use a gun for self-defense.

I believe that a blind person has the right to use a gun in the
course of self-defense, but he/she must be certain of who he/she is
shooting at and, and certain of where the bullet is going to go.
Rather than buying a shotgun, perhaps the blind person should have
installed good locks and solid core doors on the outside doors, and
also on the inside bedroom doors. If a blind person instead
chooses to own a gun and use deadly force, he or she should be
prepared to accept the consequences of his or her actions."

Respectfully Greg Trapp (From the NFB blindlaw listserv)

3. "I think this guy's blindness will be a factor, always is. Just as it was in what he prepared himself to do, in what he did and how.

Blindness will be in his favor if what he does is close to being what should have been done by a sighted person. Even if he made a mistake or too, they'd give him some slack. Get real, in an all out fight for life and death, in more cases than I would like to think of, blindness is a handicap. Get real, a good person/fighter with all his senses going for him has an advantage. He's got more to work with!

In a case like the one described here, the blind man is not only forced to shoot, but he knows that at all costs he can't allow the bad-guy to get to him. He can't take the chance that the guy has or hasn't a wepon, is bigger or not, is a marshal arts expert, is crazed by drugs, etc. He can't wait for the cops; at best they will take minutes to arrive and what was coming down for him and his wife and daughter will happen in the next few seconds. Thus if he's smart, wants to use his edge, he shoots and shoots until he knows he's finished it and he and his family are safe.

Like Mr. Newman stated in the Provoker, "God for bid that it would happen." No one should have to face this situation."

(A person from New Mexico, USA)

**4. First of all, what the heck is a blind man doing with a gun in his own home
, loaded?? That is the first mistake. (I am a woman...who used to hunt.)
After the fact, it seems to me that he should take full responsibility for
the deed. It is up to a jury of his peers to decide his guilt. If
convicted, he should "do the time". I know he would not "play handicapped"
to get out of it. But you know, he will get off. What if the intruder saw a
fire and broke in to put it out?? Okay! dumb idea."

Pam McVeigh (Herman, Nebraska, USA,

**5. "Wouldn't the others in the household be sighted? They could at least
clue him in as to whether the intruder was armed.
Probably he'd be a three-day wonder in the papers. But a friend of mine told
me if you kill an intruder in your house it's self defense. just don't let
him fall out the window. Lots of blind people have guns. That probably ought
to worry you."

Lori Stayer (Merrick, New York, USA)

**6. "The hypothetical resident who kills the burglar in Mr. Newman's
11/29 posting would suffer no adverse ramifications because of being blind.
To the contrary, he would likely become an instant local hero. I'll bet the
ranch that no possessor of property -- regardless of the possessor's vision
level -- has ever been held criminally or civilly liable for using deadly
force against an intruder of the kind Mr. Newman depicts. Nor are there any
valid laws requiring visual acuity as a precondition to the mere ownership
of otherwise legal firearms. It is, of course, a no-no to cause damage by
recklessly firing a weapon. But by no stretch of the imagination does this
case involve that.

Craig Anderson (From NFB blindlaw listserv)

**7. "The blind person waited and upon hearing the splintering announced a stop
warning, along with audibly racking a shell into the gun. The person was
inside his house, so I see no reason for not defending oneself. The family
were inside bedrooms and had been audibly located. The person was in his
full rights, there was no difference between being sighted or blind, this
would not have been an issue. We use a saying here "a horse is a horse" or
in this case a "crook is a crook"
In addition, in working with our local police department on self defense
courses, I have found that a person with a disability has more rights and
more measures to defend themselves than even the police do. A person with a
disability cannot incapacitate a wrong doer and run away, they need to stop
that wrong doer in whatever means necessary.

Mike Wardin (Columbia, Missouri, USA)

**8. "WOW...certainly this evokes many thoughts. ... I cannot speak from a law
stand, not can I pretend to know the law. I can say that, the laws and the
consequences would have little bearing I believe, on what would be an instant,
panicky, spur of the moment reaction. I would hope that I would make a wise
decision. But having been a victim of crime before, I will say this. There
is a deep-seated fear of mine. That one day someone would follow me home,
seeing that I am blind and perhaps later breaking in... The possible things
that could happen to me, my hubby and children are unimaginable. Would I as a
blind person, use a gun to protect my family? Would I stand by and watch or
wait for the intruder's next move? NO, I would not stand by, and yes I would
risk whatever necessary to protect them. I have read all of the arguments,
but in the end I doubt many of us would stand by and wait for help to come,
God willing, none of us would have to make such a choice."

Sheila Loos (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA, )>

**9. "Well, I have only one real point to make in this response to your story
this time. I do not find this to be a blindness issue, this is a social
issue that affects everyone these days. I grew up in a home with guns, and
I have a great deal of respect for these devices. They are a valuable tool
when used properly, sadly they are far too often used the wrong way. I was
taught how to fire a weapon, how to maintain one, and its proper usage. My
father firmly believed in everyone's right to won firearms, and equally he
believed that those that owned them should understand and accept the
responsibility that owning a weapon involves. The first statement my
father made to me when I first held a rifle was, "Never aim at anything you
do not intend to shoot, and never shoot at anything you do not intend to
kill." It is just that serious of a matter, and I fear that the majority
of people that purchases a weapon with the intent of protecting his or her
family does not take this matter seriously enough. Owning a weapon is a
commitment to care for that device, respecting its terrible power, and
recognizing that owning a weapon represents a serious danger to you and the
members of your family. I do not own a firearm, not because I am blind,
but because I have no true need to own one. Without a proper reason to
have and use a weapon, owning one is an act of endangerment to those you
love and anyone living near you."

Jeff Altman (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

**10. "Who cares what the law says in a time like that?! The guy did the right thing to protect his family. I know that living in America, that you would
get off free and probably get a medal for doing it. I am totally blind as
you may know and my wife and I have gone over situations like that to see what we should do in similar circumstances. I am physically fit and not
afraid of most anything. We have a shotgun in our home. It is not loaded
but we keep the shells easily accessible. My wife has very good eyesight.
I would meet the crook at the point of entry, I would tell him to stop or
he was a dead man. I would then turn on the lights so my wife could have a clear shot if need be. I have an 18-year-old son who lives here. He is no
coward either. If I, being blind would use a shotgun, I could have shot
my son. What if he had come up to fight the man and was in between us?

wife, is a cute little blonde, who when we hunted together, out shot most
of the men when we were shooting blue rock. She would not have a qualm
shooting a crook who was going to hurt our family. Whether you are sighted or blind, if you do not protect your family, you are a coward. Blind
people can shoot a gun, but you have no idea what is in front of what you
think you are shooting at."

Pat Conrad (Dunlap, Iowa, USA, )

**11. "The whole matter of fire arms is rather a difficult and sensitive subject
here in South Africa. We have a tremendously high crime rate of violent
crimes in which firearms are used. To complicate matters, the new
dispensation have gone a bit overboard on the matter of human rights and
often leaves one with the perception that the victim's human rights are
less important than those of the offender. Often people who legitimately
defend themselves and their possessions by the use of firearms, have a
lot of explaining to do and are treated as if they were the actual

Another problem is that it often happens that a house is burgled or a car
hi-jacked and a person gets shot with his own weapon. That is probably the
main reason why I've never considered trying to get a fire arm license. I
don't know what the authorities' attitude in general would be if blind
people started applying for firearm licenses. I have a blind friend who
does have a licence and apparently had no problems obtaining it, but that
was in a country town where everybody knows everyone else. I suspect that
in the cities blind people might find it more difficult to obtain licences.

As for the press: I think everyone here, including the press, but seemingly
excluding the government, is so fed-up with the crime rate that, should a
blind person defend himself with a fire arm, the press would probably
commend him. But I rather think the legal system will demand some serious
explanation. Imagine the infringement of the poor criminal's human rights!
Being shot by a blind person!

But this hasn't yet become a serious issue among blind people. We rather
tend to safeguard our homes and make use of armed response and stay away
from dangerous areas."

Christo de Klerk (Alberton, South Africa)

**12. "After reading this, a couple of points come to mind. I don't feel like this
guy's blindness was that much of an issue. Why?

Number one, no one has a
right to barge into any ones house at 2:30 in the morning..If all family
members have been accounted for, this is obviously someone that should not
be there....Therefore this person is taking a chance of being shot by any
house he goes into at this time of night.

Number 2, The owner warned this person that he had a gun, this intruder
probably also had a gun, a man/woman has every right to protect their
property and family.

Number 3, My husband has very limited vision due to CHM, but I would trust
him with a gun before me....He used to shoot quite well, and probably still
does....At 2:30 in the morning, it is going to be dark. How well can
"anyone" see in the dark....I admit I can walk through my house in the dark
and see where I am going, my husband must sometimes "feel" his way....but
can maneuver around enough to know where he is....the intruder probably has
no clue and this is to your coming into someone's house in
the dark, you deserve what you get, or go to the front door and ring the
doorbell....but this is obviously not what happened...

Number 4, How many people do you know that without their glasses they are
blind as a bat? How many people put their glasses on the night stand when
they go to bed...What if during the excitement, you knocked your glasses off
and couldn't find them....Would this person be treated as a "blind" person?
Even if the lights were on, most people cannot see 3 feet in front of them
without their glasses. Besides if I was on a Jury and this did happen, I
wouldn't care if this guy had a sawed off shotgun....My husband has always
had powerful guns, shot guns, etc....He always said that I didn't want a
little gun, you shoot that at an intruder, all you are going to do is piss
him off....You want to have something just a little bit more
intimidating....Blind people have every right to own guns just like everyone
else, and protect themselves when threatened...."

Renee Tucker (USA)

**13. "This is my response. Attached you will find the article. The only thing
that I want to say Go for it with all you have!!!

Fatos Floyd (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

ARTICLE: "The Daily Oklahoman
November 30, 1998
Blind man subdues attackers with chain saw STILWELL, Okla. (AP) _
Adair County officials say two men who broke into a blind man's home were seriously injured when the man defended his family with a chain saw. Injuries were about all the two men took with them following the altercation with J.R. Colston on Thanksgiving.

"I don't think they got away with anything except their lives," said Undersheriff Gary Sinclair.

Colston's brother,
Raymond Colston, said the incident began about noon when the two men started throwing rocks through windows of Colston's rented house southeast of Stilwell. Family members said by the time the men forced their way inside, the family was frantically looking for weapons to defend themselves.

"He did the only thing he could and got a chain saw after them," said Bonnie Colston, his mother.

Sinclair said both men ended up with serious injuries. One was sent to St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa and another went to the Stilwell hospital. The Adair County Sheriff's Department would not identify the men. Sinclair said he expected charges to be filed against the intruders sometime next week.

Family members said Colston, 50, blind since birth, was injured when one attacker hit him in the back."

**14. "I am a regular reader of the Matilda Ziegler magazine. I enjoy it and am
often intrigued by the topics of discussion that show up in the Reader's
Forum. For several months, just such issues as you have raised were high on
the list. Right now, blind people are feeling very vulnerable, maybe even
picked on by society. We do know that criminals are looking for people who
are vulnerable.

I once had a sighted roommate who wanted to get a gun. I told her that if
she felt unsafe enough in that building to think she needed a gun, she
probably needed to move to a place where she felt safe. I was working on
helplines, coming in at 2 and leaving at 3 am. When I wasn't coming and
going, I was probably on the phone. She might have shot me.

In Lincoln, it is required that firearms be kept under lock and key. This
ruling means that they are probably not available for self-defense.
Another consideration is that many times it is the criminal that uses the
weapon rather than the victim.

I guess the way I see blindness playing into this is that we need to think
ahead and figure out what we can do to make ourselves and our families
safe. I am not so sure that blindness is the real issue with having or
using a gun for self-defense in this situation. I have never used a
firearm without "hands on guidance" and probably never will. I don't have
enough interest in them to stay in practice or maintain the gun. For those
two reasons, it would not be an appropriate self-defense tool for me. I
would be better served by something like pepper spray or even a dagger
kitchen knife which would be more easily accessed by me than an intruder.

If you have concerns about your safety, I would recommend taking a
self-defense class. Police departments have them and community colleges
also hold classes. You might even want to consider martial arts training.
Another option is to participate in the self-defense seminar usually held
at the NFB convention."

Nancy Coffman (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

**15. "I am from the UK where firearms are band. No citizen is to carry or own one. I am also a veteran of our armed forces. I fought in our scrape with Argentina where I was wounded. Many of you I am sure have heard the saying "My home is my castle." My flat is my home, my castle. I am the lord and protector of my family. As a disabled man I know I am not as fit as I was in the army, I lost that edge. So to protect my family and myself I have a pistol. Yes, illegal, but necessary. If I am forced to use it will be a situation where if I do not use it either my family or myself will be at risk, in harms way. I would then trade one evil for another. I would rather risk my rights to freedom by using the pistol, then risk having my wife and child harmed. They trust in me and rely upon me to protect them. If my loss of sight becomes an issue, then may it be in my favor.

You will understand if I request that my name not appear with this message."

**16. "I'll preface this by saying I faced a very tense situation in January of
1997 in my home town of Kearney. I was home on break from college and my
younger brother threw a party at my parents' home while they were away on
a trip. He and a bunch of his buddies were drinking and naturally, as
parties go, lots of people showed up who weren't necessarily invited.
When a couple of Mexican guys showed up, one of my brother's friends, who
was somewhat wasted, threw some racial slurs at them. The two Mexicans
left, but soon returned with about eight of their friends. They were
brandishing rocks, empty beer bottles and one even had a knife. They
threatened to start breaking out windows unless my brother's friend gave
himself up. My brother and two other guys went outside in an effort to
defuse the situation. The crowd outside threatened to beat them up unless
my brother's friend gave himself up. I overheard all of this from the
front porch and, in a moment of panic, thought of my father's 357 magnum
which was upstairs in the bottom drawer of his dresser.

I ran upstairs
and knew that if I heard one cry from outside, I'd get the gun. I was
very afraid for my brother's safety. Luckily, a scared girl called the
police and they showed up several minutes later. There was no bloodshed
that night, but there very well may have been. I would've felt no
compunction about using the gun if it meant saving my brother from harm.
The idea of ever harming someone that way, or taking a human life is
abhorrent to me, but the idea of standing by helplessly and letting a loved
one suffer because of my inaction is even more so. I'm sure many blind
persons feel this way. I'm also sure that the authorities would take into
account the state of mind of the person using the deadly force in
self-defense. As many others on the list have commented, there is little
doubt a blind person would get off in a case such as the one you write
about. The idea of me, as a blind person, owning a weapon is very
disturbing, but we live in disturbing times. As more chaos continues to
boil up in our society, we can either choose to drown in it, or ride the
Hope this doesn't sound too extreme."

Ryan Osentowski (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

**17. "Frankly, were I in the man's place, I would shoot to kill and
keep ON shooting until I *knew* the intruder was immobilized. Permanently.
Why? Because allowing an intruder to live guarantees a lawsuit! uit also
guarantees that the intruder will win in court. Have you not read the
stories? It is FAR better to see to it that anyone found in one's home at
night... is found there in the morning! Dead men do not sue. IMHO, the
householder in the incident gave *three* clear warnings, first, by turning
off thre alarm. This tells the person breaking in that the home is
*occupied*. Second, by shouting "Stop!"
Although the law requires a clearer warning, such as "Stop or I'll shoot!"
it can be interpreted differently with the third and final warning, the
chambering of the round! Had the intruder been a "little deaf girl", she
would not have had the strength of "Splinter the door in" as the story
describes. Had it been a neighbor, warning them of fire, ...well... what
would YOU do to warn a neighbor? Yes, you'd KNOCK ON THE DOOR, not kick it
in! In his place, I'd fire and keep ON firing. The necessity of defending
one's family overrides all else.

But yes, a person does change when they take a life. They change
irrevocably. There are ramifications and consequences. But they MUST be
faced NOT at the moment of firing, but the moment the gun is purchased!
Once that firearm is bought, the intent MUST be there, to take life with
it, if necessary, or it becomes not only useless, but DANGEROUS. yes a gun
can be more dangerous in the hands of one not willing to kill with it, than
otherwise, in the hands of one trained in its use and mentally prepared to
act in the extreme SHOULD IT BECOME NECESSARY.

I am the ex wife of an L.A.P.D. person, have dealth with self defense
issues and know what it is to take life. I will not go into details, but
there are changes that MUST be considered BEFORE buying that shotgun. In
fact, I do not have a firearm of any kind, nor will I allow one in my
house. Because I HAVE dealt with firearm violence, accidental and criminal,
and do not intend to run that gauntlet again. I have other lethal means of
self defense which are far safer."

Sylvia Stevens (San Francisco, USA)

**18. "I have something to say about this subject, and although it is not my
intention to offend or belittle anyone, I have to express my condolences to
you for your recent loss, the loss of your mind! Are you nuts? The person
in this story is blind, am I right or did I misread? It's a story about a
blind guy who owns a gun? A guy who cannot see, has no visual sense, and he
not only owns a gun, but has bullets and actually uses the gun and shoots
someone. This is the craziest thing I've ever heard of. Who sold a gun to a
blind guy? Did his wife not know he had it? She must be blind also, or
she'd have found it and God only knows what a disaster that could have been.
What about the kids in the house? If sightless Daddy has easy access to the
firearm, then surely those kids could have found it and caused a tragedy.

The man in the story has irresponsibly endangered the lives of his children
and for what, the chance to not look helpless? The opportunity to use a
pistol just like all the sighted people can do? Hey, if you are blind, you
should please understand that there are just some things that are better left
to the sighted. I'm sorry if that sounds a little cruel, but so are the
staggering statistics involving handguns, shootings, children, deaths in this
country. The sighted people of the world are making enough of a mess of the
gun control situation and don't need any more help. In a country where it is
not only legal but an inalienable right to bear arms, we draw a fine line
between peoples rights and stupidity. Guns do not belong in the hands of
children or the blind. If you really want to senselessly create a disaster,
why don't you steal a car. If you think you can fire a gun into the
blackness and hope for the best, then you'll probably love steering a car
into the nothingness that you see ahead of you. Maybe you'll get lucky and
take out not one person but a whole group of people. Too bad you won't get
to see the damage you've done, though, some nice sighted person can describe
the carnage to you. I know this sounds awfully mean, but when it comes to
guns I am very opposed to their very existence. I resent that anyone,
including criminals can purchase and own weapons, even a person who has to
use a long stick to probe the space in front of him just to know if someone
is there or not. Does this really make sense? Would it not be safer to
learn martial arts (hey, you could also improve your balance), or equip your
home with alarm systems that will summon help for you? Now, please don't
think I'm picking on the poor blind people of the world.....I'm against guns
in anyone's hands, except the police, and it would be nice if all guns could
be eliminated someday. I do not want a gun in my house because the chances
are if it is ever needed, it would be at night time when it is dark and as
I've said before, that would be really stupid. Blind people, no matter how
good or poor they are at being blind, whether they are well adjusted or
stumbling around, regardless of their self confidence and attitude, should
not play with anything as dangerous as a gun. If anyone kills another human,
I think that they should be ready to deal with the consequences. I know I
would hate to have to go to jail, and I would especially hate it if I could
not see......all the Bubba's that are doing hard time for horrible crimes are
just waiting in their jail cells for a cellmate they can take advantage of,
and I wouldn't want that to be me. The whole point is that there are just
some things that are better left untouched, and guns in the hands of humans
is at the top of the list, as far as I'm concerned. Sorry if I offended any
blind hunters that may be out there (oh God I hope not) or any members of the

k Naples (Florida USA)

**19. "While reviewing past Provokers, I found this one about shooting those breaking and entering.
I wished to respond since I experienced a similar situation.

First, I did not try to shoot anyone. For seven years, I worked with mentally ill and developmentally disabled people in a residential and vocational setting. I was the first blind person ever hired by this company, so, the issue of being injured was raised. I had some wonderful coworkers teach me
how to handle a situation, so that, force would not be necessary. Unfortunately, one day, I was supervising a young lady in a home alone. She had been taken off a medication since it was not viewed therapeutic. First, she tried to burn down the house with me inside. While I was calling for assistance, she smashed the telephone. Trying to relax and change her mind, she grabbed my waist-length hair and smashed my head with wall-hangings and furniture. It took some time to remove her fingers from my hair. I got loose and stood in a different room, trying to decide what to do. I heard her pick up the piano bench and her mumble that the bench would certainly finish me off. I charged out the door and held it shut.

Eventually, help arrived and I was brought to the hospital. The doctors there said I was not injured, just upset since I proved that I could not perform the same job as a sighted person. I answered that my lack of sight did not provoke this person. They refused to perform any tests since I was making up the story. My supervisor and nurse from the agency went to bat for me, unfortunately, we could not get the doctors to do the tests. I am just fine now, but it still angers me since my sight
actually prevented further injury. I have seen so many sighted people use force when escape may be the better choice. The company has been very supportive of hiring more disabled staff after I proved that the work could be performed by a uniquely abled person.
Marcia Beare, M.S.W. (Martin, Michigan