Concealed carry for ccw carriers with bad eyesight
Having less-than-perfect eyesight could seem to make concealed carry a more complicated proposition. Granted, it doesn't have to be a deal-breaker.
There is a recent, reoccurring article published in the Des Moines Register about how Iowa has no restrictions on issuing concealed carry permits to the visually impaired. It's created a bit of a stir because many people believe that if you can't see the target, you shouldn't be shooting. And they do have a point – it fundamentally violates two of the basic safety principles that govern the safe usage of firearms.
- Be able to identify what is in front and behind your target.
- Do not point your weapon at anything you do not intend to destroy.
How can you know the answers to either of those questions if you can't get a good visual lock on the target in a fast moving environment? There's plenty of people with great eyesight that struggle – and sometimes fail – with that same issue.
For issues such as personal defense and home defense, the argument that those with poor eyesight shouldn't be allowed to use their concealed carry permit quickly loses water.
Poor Eyesight Versus Being Legally Blind
Before we go any further, let's make sure we get the distinction clear between having other than great eyesight and being actually blind.
If you're blind, then guns probably aren't a great idea because not being able to see the target means you won't be able to hit the target. That's just unsafe, period, and there's no getting around it.
If your eyesight is impaired, but is functional, then there are things you can do and parameters you might be able to operate within.
Let's put it this way:
If they still let you drive, that means there's something to work with. If they don't...having a gun probably isn't the best idea.
Poor Eyesight And Laser Sights On Concealed Carry Firearms
For close distance (20 ft and under), a laser sight is one of the fastest ways to draw a pistol and be on target. While not every laser sight is 100% accurate, as long as it's installed correctly it will certainly bring the concealed carrier to center mass.
This is actually ideal for home defense and property defense scenarios where the concealed carrier may be facing an unknown number of assailants approaching from multiple angles.
Best of all is that many reputable holster manufacturers now produce high-retention inside the waistband holsters which are made to accommodate some of the major laser sights for popular models of handguns. Shop around to find a holster that accommodates laser sight assembly so you don't have to sacrifice it in order to carry.
Focus On Center Mass Shooting
If your vision is not that great, you should always focus on hitting the biggest, most exposed portion of your enemy. If that's his center mass – great. Good, controlled shots will do more to help a situation than wildly trying to fire at the head or limbs. If you aim center mass, as long as your barrel stays pointed on target you're almost guaranteed to hit some part of the target.
In conclusion, just because a person has poor eyesight doesn't mean they shouldn't have the ability to defend themselves. It's a basic, primal right of any living being. But why not make yourself more prepared by considering a laser sight assembly for your concealed carry firearm – and an inside the waistband holster which accommodates it?
Upgrade Your Handgun Sights: Reflex Sights and High Visibility Iron Sights
If you have problems picking up your handgun sights, there are some other technological solutions that can be brought to bear.
First we have reflex sights. Also known as reflex optics and/or red dot sights, these are optics that are installed on a handgun for fast sight acquisition. The name comes from the little red dot that appears in the optic.
The quick version is that a reflex sight, unlike a more traditional scope, doesn't have great magnification power as most are 1x or 2x, meaning the same magnification power or only double the magnification power of the human eye. However, the lenses are curved in such a fashion that you have to acquire a sight picture with the reticle over the target.
When the dot is on target, the gun is on target. Granted, the above description is not a very accurate description of how they work - this is the short, short version! - but gives the total novitiate the general idea.
Since reflex sights can be illuminated, this can give the eyesight-challenged a boost. Reflex optics are capable of great accuracy and fast sight acquisition and reacquisition under recoil, so they're actually a great shooting tool regardless.
However, they're also expensive and require purchase or modification of a pistol that is compatible with them. As an alternative, you can purchase and install (or have installed) a set of high-visibility iron sights, such as fiber optic or tritium night sights.
Fiber optic sights catch ambient light, making the sight light up. They're a favorite among hunters and target shooters. However, they aren't the absolute best in low-light environments. Granted, they will still light up a little bit if there is ambient light, but not nearly as much as in daylight.
Tip for the color blind: most people who are colorblind are red- or green-colorblind. In other words, you can't see red or green. Know what kind you are, and get a fiber optic rod in a color you can see.
As to tritium night sights, tritium sights are phospholuminescent, meaning they actually give off light as tritium is low-level radioactive. Nothing to worry about; you'd have to eat a pound of it for it to harm you. You get more radiation from your television set. However, at night...they light up! You see them in the dark. In the day, they look like white dot sights.
Some sights even come with a fiber optic ring around the tritium insert. This gives them day-time and night-time function.
However, the problem a lot of people have with sights is that they're too small. (Been there!) Folks tend to get nearsighted as they age, having more and more problems seeing small objects up-close. FO and tritium sights make the dots more visible, but that only goes so far.
One company specializes in that, XS Sights. Now, XS made their name with a product called the Big Dot, a sight set based on express sights found on old African hunting rifles. Express sights were a shallow "V" rear sight with a BIG brass, gold or otherwise bead front sight, sometimes slathered with white paint for fast acquisition. Their sight set is basically the same, with a big white dot up front, with a tritium insert.
Additionally, plenty of other aftermarket sights have larger dots for easier visibility. If you notice that you're having a hard time picking up small sights, you may want to go ahead and invest in a pair of more visible sights.
Also, get your vision checked every few years. If you notice you went from easy shooting to having visual issues, it may be time to get your vision corrected or to revisit your prescription.
About The Author
James England (@sir_jim_england) is the contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and private defense contracting in Afghanistan.