ATLANTA — A gun owner who’s legally blind is making his friends nervous. That’s because Georgia allows legally visually impaired people to carry guns.
Channel 2 Action News launched an investigation into the state’s gun rules after David Bunch's friends contacted us.
"I don't see anybody in their right mind giving a blind man a license to tote a gun in public," said Bunch's friend Eule Stewart.
Stewart told Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Erica Byfield that he’s worried about Bunch and the people he meets.
Normal vision is considered to be 20/20, while 20/200 is legally blind.
Stewart said Bunch's vision is worse: "He says that he can see shadows, pretty much, just shadows and movement."
He is convinced Bunch would not see a "no concealed weapons sign" posted outside a business.
"He can always get by with, ‘Well, I didn't see no sign,’ because he can't see the sign,” Stewart said.
That’s just one of several problems Stewart has with his visually impaired friend carrying a gun.
Stewart told Byfield he’s scared Bunch would be an easy target if someone saw his gun.
The longtime friends met at a Super Bowl party. The pair played pool together.
"What was his vision like back then?" Byfield asked.
"Well, he could shoot pool and beat the socks off just about anybody," Stewart said.
He added Bunch can't play anymore -- he can’t see the end of the 7-foot table.
Now Stewart and Bunch spend time running errands.
Stewart said he offered to help his friend get around after Georgia pulled Bunch's driver's license.
In January, Stewart said he drove Bunch to a Dawsonville gun shop to buy a 12-gauge shotgun.
"He asked me what the gun looked like,” Stewart said. “I said, ‘Well, it's a nice looking gun. You know, I'd like to have a gun like that.’ And he said, ‘I'll take that one.’”
Stewart told Byfield he doesn’t see a problem with that. He believes Bunch has a right to protect his home.
Stewart does take issue with his friend carrying his gun on his hip or concealed in public.
He then showed us video where he confronted Bunch.
"What's a blind man need with a pistol?" Stewart asked Bunch.
"Just for, like, close range. You jump on me, I'm going to get you off," he responded.
"Well, why do you need to tote one to Walmart?" Stewart questioned.
Bunch said, "I don't tote one to Walmart."
"You was," Stewart said.
"What?” Bunch said.
"You used to tote one," Stewart said.
"I used to see better than I do now," Bunch said.
Byfield reached Bunch by phone. She asked him to speak on camera, but he declined.
Channel 2 traveled to Iowa to meet Bethany Wethington, a gun owner who’s legally blind.
She can only see about 20 feet. Wethington showed Byfield her Iowa concealed-carry permit.
"I've grown up around guns, I'm completely comfortable with them," she said.
Byfield met her at a gun range. While Byfield was there, the 21-year-old did not have a problem nailing the target.
Wethington said it’s all about muscle memory.
Her father, Sheriff Warren Wethington, taught her how to shoot.
He told Byfield he wants his daughter to be able to protect herself.
"The people who express their opinions that my daughter's not safe with a gun most likely have never held one, shot one or know anything about one," Sheriff Wethington said.
"I'm not a threat to society. I'm a law-abiding citizen, and just because I'm legally blind doesn't mean I shouldn't have a permit to defend myself," Bethany Wethington told Byfield.
While Georgia does not bar visually impaired people from carrying guns, neighboring South Carolina does.
Anyone who wants a permit in South Carolina must have a driver's license or proof of 20/40 vision.
The probate judge who approved Bunch's carry license told Byfield that he followed the law.
Byfield asked, "Do you review driving records?"
"No ma'am," Probate Judge Michael Chastain responded.
Stewart thinks Georgia's law should be amended and include that requirement.
"I've known him 20 years and I love him, and I don't want him hurt," Stewart said.
We asked Bunch to speak to us on camera for this story, but he declined.
It is unclear how many legally blind Georgians have a license to carry. Georgia keeps all license to carry information secret.
Cox Media Group