The Blind Man With A Concealed Carry Permit

“Perhaps only in a world of the blind will things be what they truly are.” —Jose Saramago, “Blindness”

In A Nutshell

Carey McWilliams is an American with a concealed carry permit. That’s not so unusual, right? Well, Carey McWilliams is actually the first guy to receive a concealed carry permit . . . while totally blind. And not only does he pack pistol, the man is also a pretty skilled hunter.

The Whole Bushel

Americans love guns. Well, that’s the stereotype anyway. The truth is a bit more complicated. While it’s really tricky estimating gun ownership, a 2013 Pew Research poll calculated 37 percent of US households contain an adult who owns some sort of firearm. Having said that, there are between 270–310 million guns in the US. That’s a whole lot of firepower.

Regardless of how many Americans actually own guns, you’ve got to admit that firearms play a pretty important role in US history and society. Guns are mentioned in the Bill of Rights, for crying out loud. There are over 13 million hunters in America. The US has plenty of folk heroes famous for packing heat (e.g., Davy Crockett, Wyatt Earp, Annie Oakley). And that’s not even mentioning all the high-profile mass shootings like Sandy Hook.

Basically, America and guns are inextricably linked. Half the country loves them. The other half loathes them. And that’s what makes a guy like Carey McWilliams such a fascinating figure.

When Carey was 10, he lost his vision due to hydrocephalus, but that didn’t stop him from becoming the fastest blind gunfighter in North Dakota. After attending a military camp at 15, Carey fell in love with firearms. He attended an ROTC marksmanship course which he passed thanks to his super-hearing abilities. During his time on the range, he learned how to listen for he moving paper targets and allegedly scored higher on his final test than most of his classmates.

Eventually, he passed an NRA exam, and in 2001, he became the first blind person in the US to receive a concealed carry permit. And yeah, to earn your concealed carry permit, you have to pass a shooting test. According to the BBC, he totally aced it. Since then, he’s helped around 100 other blind people earn their own permits, and he’s also amassed quite an impressive arsenal. The man owns everything from a 12-gauge shotgun to an AK-47, and he carries a 9mm whenever he leaves the house.

This sightless shootist is also an incredibly prolific hunter. Whenever he hunts for ducks, he once again uses his hearing to track the sound of his prey. Of course, when he goes for elk, he needs a buddy to tell him where to aim. However, his friend can’t physically help him aim. He can only tell Carey where to point the gun and when to squeeze the trigger. The rest is up to McWilliams.

McWilliams also goes after bigger game and has killed an alligator, a tiger shark, and a black bear. Obviously, hunting for sport is a bit more controversial than killing for meat. However, if you challenged Carey, he’d explain that hunting deadly animals actually helps him deal with his PTSD. In 2009, he was savagely attacked by a pack of dogs, and ever since then, he’s tried to cope by taking on powerful predators.

Whether or not you agree with his hunting hobby, you have to admit it’s pretty impressive that a blind guy is such proficient marksman. Of course, if you think a visually challenged person shouldn’t be carrying a gun in the first place, well, Carey couldn’t disagree more. According to McWilliams, even though he doesn’t have eyesight, he still has a brain.

Show Me The Proof

Pew Research Center: A minority of Americans own guns, but just how many is unclear
CNS News: U.S. Gun Owners Outnumbered Hunters by 5 to 1 in 2011
BBC Magazine: Guide dogs and guns: America’s blind gunmen
Vice: The Completely Blind Hunter (video)