Advocates for four gun rights groups brought 5,000 letters and petitions to the governor’s office on Thursday, urging the Gov. Peter Shumlin to reject any attempt to restrict Vermont’s gun laws.
Though the issue is a moot point — legislative leaders have said they will not take up three bills introduced last month — organizers of the petition drive said they wanted to honor the citizens who gathered signatures from all over the state and make state officials and the press aware of how committed Vermonters are to protecting the Second and 14th Amendments and a provision in Vermont’s constitution that gives residents the right to “bear arms to protect themselves.”
The four groups include Vermont Traditions Coalition, Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, Gun Owners of Vermont and Vermont NRA. The ad hoc coalition opposes trigger locks, waiting periods for gun purchases, and “shifting liabilities to lawful and constitutional firearms use,” according to a statement. Gun restrictions run afoul of self-defense rights, the groups say.
Bill Moore, of Johnson and one of the organizers of the petition drive, said Shumlin administration officials met briefly with representatives from the groups and were “fair and friendly” to the advocates.
In private meetings with the House Speaker and lawmakers, the gun rights advocates asked for a review of mental health crisis management in response to the Newtown, Conn., tragedy in which 20 young children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Adam Lanza, the man accused of the murders, was mentally ill.
“Vermont has one of the highest gun ownership rates in the world, and the lack of violent crime speaks for the free ownership and use of weapons for self defense,” Moore wrote.
Moore said in a statement that in an outpouring of opposition gun rights activists previously defeated Sen. Phil Baruth’s assault weapons ban proposal.
Gun rights groups have held two well-attended rallies at the Statehouse since January.
Gun safety advocates have held a rally and two press conferences. They delivered petitions with 3,000 signatures to the governor on Wednesday.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 9:25 a.m. March 16.