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Blind Fargo man secures elusive Minnesota concealed weapons permit

Latest accomplishment adds to long list of firearms permits from various states.

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FARGO — Fargo native Carey McWilliams, who has been blind since age 10 , has obtained a certain level of notoriety for a number of accomplishments, including being the first visually impaired person in the United States to obtain a permit to carry a loaded firearm.

That was back in 2000, and over time McWilliams acquired a total of five such permits from the states of North Dakota, Arizona, Florida, Virginia and Utah, though one state — Minnesota — always eluded him.

Until recently, that is.

After two unsuccessful attempts to obtain a Minnesota concealed carry permit, once in 2006 and again in 2016, McWilliams tried again this year, and this time it paid off when he applied for a permit from Clay County.

But his latest try wasn't a breeze.

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"This third time they denied me initially, but then I did a 20-day review of that and that's when I showed them that you're issuing permits to people who are far less qualified than myself," said McWilliams, adding he showed Clay County officials all of the permits he has obtained as well as documentation of various firearms training he underwent.

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Carey McWilliams of Fargo was the first blind person in the country to receive a conceal carry gun permit and since 2000 has obtained several other permits from various states. David Samson / The Forum

McWilliams said it also helped that he carries concealed carry insurance and that he can explain his reasons for wanting a permit.

According to statistics he found through research, he said, a visually impaired person is twice as likely to be attacked on the street as a sighted person, and he said he assists visually impaired people around the country in obtaining concealed carry permits.

McWilliams said he carries his permits with him wherever he goes, and he usually carries a gun, as well, mostly for reasons of personal safety.

"Back in 2009, I was mauled by three dogs, and I didn't have my gun on me," McWilliams said.

"I still today suffer from the injuries of that attack, and had I had a firearm I might not be this messed up," he added.

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McWilliams stressed that if he ever uses a gun in self defense it will only be because he believes his life is on the line.

"Basically, it's going to be life or death," he said, adding that because he would likely only use his weapon in close contact with an assailant, it would limit the potential for anyone else being hurt.

"You will be using the gun as a contact weapon," he said.

A longtime hunter, McWilliams said when it comes to such activities he receives assistance in much the same way a sniper is assisted by a spotter.

"That's the way a blind person shoots," he said. "Somebody looks through my scope and says, 'Up, down. Left, Right.' And then after that I ignore them and I shoot."

McWilliams said he once used that system when hunting for antelope, a hunt that was ultimately a success.

"I killed it (an antelope) at 156 yards using that technique," he said.

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com
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