Committee to present gun control measures to Burlington City Council in October

The Burlington City Council will take up a gun control policy this fall, councilors say.

The Charter Change Committee, which was asked to draft a gun control resolution earlier this year, will present the council with five gun control measures on Oct. 21, committee members said.

Though the Legislature may discuss gun control legislation early next year, Burlington must act on the issue because the city has its own gun-related problems, said Councilor Rachel Siegel, P-Ward 3, chair of the Charter Change Committee.

“I think that there are things in Burlington that make it different than the rest of Vermont, and some of these measures will address that,” Siegel said.

The measures would ban assault weapons, restrict those with domestic violence convictions from obtaining a firearm, require a permitting process for concealed weapons, ban firearms from establishments that serve alcohol, and require that firearms be kept “under lock and key,” separate from another locked location where ammunition is kept.

The resolution will be on the ballot in March before the Legislature votes on a required charter change to allow the city to adopt its own policy on gun control. Legislative approval will not likely occur until 2015, Siegel said.

The committee has passed all five recommendations unanimously, Siegel said. The committee is composed of Siegel, Tom Ayres, D-Ward 7, and Norman Blais, D-Ward 6.

After the committee was scheduled to introduce the measures in November, hunters accused Siegel of strategically excluding sportsmen from participating in the discussion because they would be deer hunting when the council meets in November. Siegel said she was previously unaware of hunting season dates and agreed to move the hearing to October.

Mike Kanarick, the mayor’s chief of staff, said Weinberger is reviewing the recommendations and does not have a position on any of them at this time.

According to Title 24 of Vermont statute, municipalities do not have the authority to regulate firearms, which is why the committee must seek a charter change.

In January, following a mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, the council voted 10-3 to ask the committee to draft a weapons ban resolution.

John Herrick

Comments

  1. Jon Culligan :

    When will they get around to changing the Vermont Constitution, specifically Chapter I, Article 16?

    • Val Harris :

      When pigs fly.

      • Justin Farrar :

        Good answer Val!

        • Jon Culligan :

          Which means any feel-good type of bill that’s proposed won’t pass constitutional muster in Vermont. Case closed before they even start.

    • joel stoner :

      The same day they change Chapter 1, Article 1, Article 3, and Article 13.

  2. Chris Robinson :

    I wonder how many crimes have been comitted in Burlington (or Vermont) with an “assult” rifle to warrant a ban. It sounds to me that the majority of the restrictions are on the law-abiding individual.

  3. Randal Murray :

    This is where our elected officials need to tread lightly. If you start talking about taking away Vermonters guns rights, you will see a voter turn out like you have never seen. You may even see Vermont return to a conservative state, as it had been for years and years until recently.
    You don’t mess with Vermonters Guns, period. If you want gun laws, move to Chacigo and see how they are making out.

  4. Kristin Sohlstrom :

    “…Burlington must act…”

    Really? MUST? Why? How much money is coming and who is pressuring you to do this?

    “The resolution will be on the ballot in March before the Legislature votes on a required charter change to allow the city to adopt its own policy on gun control. Legislative approval will not likely occur until 2015, Siegel said.”

    This sounds extremely certain as well. How do you KNOW the Legislature will vote to allow the city to adopt its own policy on gun control and give approval?

    • Justin Farrar :

      VT Legislature will NOT allow this! We will make sure of it!

  5. Around Vermont and the United States educational districts are being forced into turning our buildings into militarized bunkers. In a response to conditions totally beyond our control we are having to terrorize our children with school lock down drills, and we are spending tens of thousands of dollars or more to harden our schools. This is happening for only one reason: the number and easy availability of firearms. A school shooting takes much more than a shooter: it takes guns and bullets. It is true that we need to protect ourselves from dangerous people, but we also need to protect ourselves from the surplus of firearms these dangerous people so easily find and use to create their horror.

    • Eddie Garcia :

      Rama. Once again, a lone voice crying in the wilderness, dishing out emotionalism and tropes, and the “But the children!” : the first thing out of the mouths of people who are ready to come after your liberties. When I become one of those “dangerous people” you get to separate me from my rights, and not before. You want a bunch of draconian gun laws, go somewhere that has them. You don’t get them here.

      • Walter Carpenter :

        “But the children!” :”the first thing out of the mouths of people who are ready to come after your liberties.”

        I guess the children do not matter now, just as long as we have the liberty to own whatever high-powered weaponry to make sure that more of them do not matter. Newtown, Columbine… so what.

        • Isaac Moore :

          Walter,

          You point to shootings but conveniently ignore other tragedies (some which resulted in more deaths) that were completely void of firearms, such as the Oklahoma City bombing, Unibomber, etc. Would you suggest we get ban fertilizer, vans, and the postal system to prevent further tragedies? Of course not. Again, getting to the source cause of the violent tendencies is a better way to address the issue.

          • Have you tried to purchase a truckload of nitrogen fertilizer lately?

          • Isaac Moore :

            Rama,

            No, I have not tried to purchase a truckload of nitrogen. However, I fail to see the point you’re trying to make?

          • Isaac, you brought up Oklahoma City – which resulted in controls over sales of products containing high levels of nitrogen – because that was what the explosive essentially was made up of.

          • Isaac Moore :

            Rama,

            Yet there are still highly explosive materials that are easily purchased, such as gasoline. My point is that we will never be able to completely control for such things and this is why I advocate correction of the problem at the behavioral source.

    • Kim West :

      That is like doing away with cars because irresponsible people drink and drive. Get real.

    • Isaac Moore :

      Rama,

      Violence, no matter what form it may take, requires only a disturbed individual. If you think restricting firearms will end violence you are sadly mistaken. The kind of thinking shown in this article address the symptom, not the cause, of the issue and will therefore not meaningfully change a thing. Perhaps it would be a better use of time, energy, and money to attack the cause of the problem and attempt to (proactively) reduce the number of dangerous people in our society? I believe that is something we could all agree on.

    • Dan Carver :

      Rama,
      I am not a gun owner, but respect a person’s right to own guns. If a deranged person wants to do harm they will find a way to accomplish it. If it is a gun they want,they will find a way to get one…by any means possible.

      In regards to Newtown, or any other appalling violent event, our society will address every symptom other than restricting, isolating, or–dare I say the politically incorrect term–terminating the deranged person.

      Having a “fate worse than death” might deter the more sane killer, but life in prison is not a fate worse than death. Prisoners have greater access to shelter, food, education, and health care than many of our senior citizens. Gun control laws will not deter the problem of violent crimes.

    • Justin Farrar :

      Rama, They are not being forced into anything. They are reacting with the same irrational fear and emotions you are rather than looking at the facts. Banning certain firearms does not keep criminals or mentally ill people from using them.

    • What all the above responses conveniently ignore is one simple fact: the number and easy availability of firearms. An armed society is not a safe society – you can look all around the world (including the United States) for evidence of that.

      You want to own a firearm? Fine, but let’s attach a title to each and every firearm that binds that firearm to an individual or business who will be accountable to society for that firearm. Let’s make each and every transfer of firearms, and I’m including intra-family, subject to a background check. Let’s make the owner of a firearm legally responsible for the safe storage of that firearm. Let’s do away with stupid excuses such as “ooooops, I didn’t know that gun was loaded” (honestly – guns don’t load guns, people do).

      Let’s work to end insane laws that such as those that say it’s okay to shoot and kill someone simply because you become afraid (you know – the stand your ground so you can stop feeling impotent due to your big gun laws).

      In other words – let’s make firearms ownership a thing to be taken extremely seriously and something that acknowledges ownership of such a dangerous implement comes with a huge responsibility to society.

      I remember sitting in a Montpelier City Council meeting back in the 1990s as the push was begun to do away with local ordinances that restricted the carrying of handguns. The lawyer for the Vermont based gun group that was leading the charge (can’t remember the name at the moment) explained to the City Council that Montpelier’s ordinance against carrying a loaded handgun was an undue burden because sometimes she simply forgot that her handgun was loaded.

      That is a true story and that is not an embellishment and that is a great example of why we should be restrictive with our gun laws – “ooooops, I didn’t know that gun was loaded”

      And in today’s society you want to poo-poo parental concern for their children’s safety when it comes to guns?

      I’m not buying it. It is time to hop off the silly wagon.

      • Josh Burlette :

        Rama,

        It certainly is time to hop off the silly wagon. The entire discussion about gun “safety” in Vermont has been off the rails since it started.

        Vermont is one of the safest states in the entire country. Gun violence is nearly nonexistent. Yet somehow the idea of your fellow Vermonters continuing to have access to firearms in the same manner as they have since 1777 is simply unacceptable. Why?

        Your ideal version of gun control will make it more difficult for me to protect my young children both in my home and in public.

        Finally, stop calling gun control, “gun safety.” You’re not fooling anyone. Plus, it is extremely dangerous to confuse a fear of firearms (gun control) with safe firearms handling (gun safety).

      • Isaac Moore :

        Rama,

        You indirectly raise a few good points. People who own guns should, at the very least, be trained how to use them. The most important rule one should learn before even touching a gun is ALWAYS TREAT THE GUN AS IF IT WERE LOADED. I think State run training / education courses would be an excellent idea which would help reduce accidental shootings.

        Some of your other concerns:
        “An armed society is not a safe society”. While it’s true that the United States has higher gun related deaths when compared to other developed countries, the US also has a much less secure social network. Also, it’s unfair of you to lump the entire US together, a more accurate picture comes to light when looking at individual States and / or cities. Large urban areas such as Chicago, NY, Washington, which have some of the strictest gun laws, also report the highest incidences of gun violence. In contrast, Vermont has (I believe) the lowest homicide rate in the country and some of the least restricting laws. This is direct evidence that contradicts your statement, armed citizens do not necessarily correlate with an unsafe society. I believe a STABLE society, in terms of economics, social network, politics etc., equates to a safe society.

        You bring up a “stand your ground” law. I think what most people don’t realize is that in most of jurisdictions you have a right to defend yourself if you are attacked by another person. The opposite of that is the “Duty to Retreat” law, which means that I would NOT LEGALLY BE ALLOWED TO DEFEND MYSELF until I made every attempt to evade / run away from the threat. So, for example, if someone pulls a knife and charges me then I would be required by law to try to run away first. I’m not sure about you, but if someone is attacking me I don’t want to turn my back on them and would like to be able to fight back without needing to worry if I’m breaking the law by not attempting to run away.

        You discuss parental concern for children’s safety. Are you aware that statistically it’s roughly 100 times more likely for a child under the age of 10 to die in a swimming accident than by gun? I’m curious if you’ve made any efforts at all to reduce deaths by swimming accidents? If no, then why not?

        The sad fact is that people in our society are too concerned with the quick fix, addressing the symptom and not the cause of problems, and are too easily manipulated by the media into advocating for the cause of the day. These people tend to make emotional decisions, which really are not decisions at all, but reactions void of logical discussion.

        A better and more useful discussion regarding violence and crime in the United States should revolve around our Nation’s educational system, drug use, economy, and several other factors which would address the underlying cause of the issue.

        • An ongoing discussion regarding social issues will always be useful, but the issues with firearms are too many, too easy to get, and too many laws favoring the use of firearms over safety of people. That is a useful discussion to have.

          The firearms issue is a national issue – Vermont is not an island. All those gun deaths in New York City and Chicago are obviously done by weapons from places outside those cities. And I for one am not content to sit back and wait the inevitable time when that violence reaches across our state border.

          And that example of turning your back on a knife assault due to a duty to retreat is a BS example. Duty to retreat means you take advantage of situations that allow you to remove yourself from whatever the dangerous circumstances are.

          Let’s get real … firearms today are not the firearms of the 18th or even 19th centuries. A handgun clip capable of holding a double digit number of rounds is not the exception. Rifles that can take clips with an even greater number rounds (and the clips to do so) are easily available. This huge increase in lethality also means we revisit that responsibility to society.

          What I don’t understand is why there is this apparent fear of getting a handle on how many firearms are out there, who owns them and holding those people/businesses responsible for what happens with those firearms.

          • Isaac Moore :

            Rama,

            “…firearms are too many”. And does that mean you suggest taking firearms away from law abiding citizens?

            “…firearms… are too easy to get”. There are already laws in place which limit acquisition of certain guns and forbid acquisition of guns by criminals. I would fully support a measure which would necessitate background checks for ALL sales including sales between private sales in Vermont. What more would you suggest?

            “…too many laws favoring the use of firearms over safety of people”. Could you please list a few?

            The right to bear arms is a national debate / issue, but it is not unfair to segregate States, especially since we’re discussing a City ban and the fact that gun regulation is determined by the individual States. Again, there are laws already in place that forbid me from going to NY and selling someone a gun.

            I don’t think turning my back and running from a knife assault is BS at all. Although jurisdictions differ, I believe your definition of the Duty to Retreat is inaccurate. Again, Duty to Retreat laws can differ depending on the jurisdiction, however many would REQUIRE BY LAW a person to attempt to run away from an attacker. I don’t want to tell anyone they can’t run away if under attack and I certainly wouldn’t want to be told that I can’t legally defend myself if under attack. How do you justify telling someone they cannot defend themselves if under attack?

            You are correct, firearms today are not the firearms of the 18th or 19th centuries. However, as noted above, there are already limitations as to what kinds of guns can be purchased. For example, fully automatic machine guns are already restricted. So far, in the context of this article and resolution, no one has defined what the term “assault weapon” means. Likewise, you haven’t discussed what you think a reasonable gun is for someone to own. Could you let us know what you think is reasonable, in terms of caliber, power, bullet capacity, etc.?

            I don’t think there is a fear of getting a handle on how many firearms are out there, it’s just confusing when people shout for a reduction of firearms or a call for more restrictions but give little to no specifics. Also, the right to bear arms is specifically protected by the Constitution (admittedly the precise meaning of which is up for debate), so when there is a blanket call to severely diminish that right people understandably attempt to defend it. In fact, you seem to be more fearful of the law abiding citizens who own guns, invoking the safety of the children and the “…inevitable time when that violence reaches across our [S]tate border”. My guess is that some of that fear stems from an unfamiliarity with firearms (please correct me if I’m wrong). However, if correct, I’d be more than happy to bring you to the range and give you a shooting lesson.

    • Walter Carpenter :

      “That’s when I missed being a victim by less than a minute, when a disgruntled employee at a car dealership in Virginia Beach shot the place up.”

      Well, Bill, as someone who also missed being a victim by about the same margin, only less, I am happy that you are still here. Yet, being “judged by twelve, rather than carried by six,” is the problem and is why you and I almost joined the 30,000 or so Americans who perish annually due to our plethora of weapons. This disgruntled employee would not have been able to shoot up that auto dealership if he/she did not have the weapon to do it; the disgruntled people who sprayed bullets at my friends and I one night from a passing car could not have done it without the means to do this in their hands. Rama has a point about having to turn our schools into fortresses in order to protect our “liberties” in owning weapons to try and prevent yet another Sandy Hook because of these liberties.

      • Isaac Moore :

        Walter,

        You act as if the disgruntled employee would not have been able to commit an act of violence if he didn’t have access to the gun. Perhaps a system that addressed why he was disgruntled in the first place and deal with it before violent tendencies surfaced would have been a better solution?

      • Jonathan Willson :

        How many of those 30,000 died in VT?
        How many were homicides could be attributed to organized crime or drug trafficking?
        How many offenders would care about increasingly restrictive laws?
        Have strict local ordinances been effective at curbing gun crime?
        Why make bad policy that punishes the wrong people? I am fine with greater restrictions on gun ownership for those with a history of domestic abuse. I also support stronger gun registration measures so we can better track the purchase of firearms. But this is dumb and reactive.

        Stop throwing around statistics that do not apply to the situation at hand. Let’s find stats on cities with fewer than 100,000 people, similar population demographics, income levels, strong public education systems. Stop using stats based on the situation in Oakland!

  6. Matt Storer :

    I am a Burlington resident, and this agenda disturbs me greatly. The only regulation the committee has devised that I can even remotely support, is to keep guns out of the hands of those found guilty of domestic violence. The rest only infringe needlessly on the rights of law-abiding citizens.

    This proposed charter-change will make overnight criminals out of MANY Burlington residents, or will require them to leave their homes to move to less Draconian environments. And I can tell you, this will go over like a lead balloon.

    • Patrick Cashman :

      Mr. Storer,
      Possession of firearms is already prohibited for individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, felons, or those under a court issued restraining order (18 USC Sect 922).
      In the absence of actual text laying out what is being proposed (if anyone has a link to where such can be found that would be helpful) it is hard to see how a city ordinance does much to reinforce existing Federal law. Though based on the minutes of the comments by Ms. Siegel during the 20 May committee meeting it appears she is advocating that police be empowered to seize firearms if they respond to a domestic violence call, without the pesky involvement of a court.

  7. Jason Wells :

    Councilor Rachel,

    “and require that firearms be kept “under lock and key,” separate from another locked location where ammunition is kept.”

    I see this as perfectly sensible. So now when and intruder breaks into my home high on drugs or whatnot I will politely ask him or her to please wait a few moments while I retrieve my firearm from one safe and then get the ammo out of the other in order to defend myself. I am confident the intruder will comply with my request.

    • Kim West :

      Jason,
      Ask them how they are going to enforce that one. Another superfluous and unenforceable law on the books.

  8. Douglas Duprey :

    I for one will not spend my money in Burlington. I will not support businesses that operate in and out of Burlington. If they feel this way about me then I feel this way about them and the people that support them. If you want my business move out of Burlington.

  9. Isaac Moore :

    I’d like to know what their definition of “assault weapon” is? Fully automatic “machine guns” are legal to possess ONLY after one has been cleared by the ATF (including background check and finger printing) and given permission by the local police department.

    Also, I’m wondering how Burlington will justify / enforce REQUIRING me to keep my guns “under lock and key separate from another locked location where ammunition is kept”.

    What would stop Burlington from making similar resolutions for things like alcohol, cigarettes, cheese, sugar, etc., all of which kill many, many more people than firearms and are not even protected by the constitution? Of course I’m being a bit facetious, but I think the point remains.

  10. Val Harris :

    A city’s charter change can do many things, but one thing it can not do is exempt or deny constitutionally and statutorialy protected rights of its state’s citizens. The residents of Burlington are first and foremost citizens of the state of Vermont. Regardless of whether or not the resolutions get beyond the ballot, there is no way the legislature representing the state as a whole will pass such a bill. If so, the fallout in lawsuits as well as appeals will be overwhelming as will the cost to the city. The Burlington City Council is wasting its time and its taxpayers’ money.

  11. dan thompson :

    Funny, the only place I would carry a concealed firearm in Vermont is Burlington due to the slums, drugs, and people imported from other countries to make Burlington appear more “diverse”… oh and the NY and NJ drug dealers (the ones on the news every other week).

    • Peter Liston :

      Yea. People from other countries are scary. We should be armed to keep them away from us.

    • Burlington’s immigrant population are probably some of the kindest & friendliest folks here. Try talking to them sometime instead of avoiding eye contact!

  12. dan thompson :

    So Burlington, you are saying you should be scared of the Blue/white collar guy going out with his wife (or husband) and kids and carrying a sidearm for self defense? That the people coming in from out of state to sell drugs and dabble in break in’s are not an issue?

  13. peter harvey :

    8 to 1 there rights to use violence, my rights to live safely. That says it all to me. Safety in mobs, but real bravery in individuals willing to stand up to mobs.

    • I think you’re a bit confused, Peter. The right to own a gun is not the right to use violence. And my right to on a gun does not infringe on your “right to live safely”, whatever that means. I think you’re claiming a right to be free from fear. No such animal. Your fears do not trump my rights.

      • Walter Carpenter :

        “No such animal. Your fears do not trump my rights.”

        Then what is the point of a democratic society?

        • Isaac Moore :

          Walter,

          A Democracy is not intended to make you feel safe, regardless of cost. Per Wikipedia a Democracy is a “form of government is which all eligible citizens participate equally – or through elected representatives – in the proposal, development, and creation of laws”.

          Having said that, the United States is a Federal Republic. In fact, I believe the term “democracy” is not mentioned in the constitution.

    • I think I’m a bit confused, Peter. Another reading of your comment suggests I MAY have you exactly backward.

    • Val Harris :

      Mr. Harvey is confused about the importance of and the difference between safety and liberty that our forefathers warned us about.

      • I read that comment and I’m not quite sure what he means. I could read it either way.

  14. Pat McGarry :

    Since federal law already prohibits individuals with even misdemeanor domestic assault convictions, Burlington’s proposal is redundant.

  15. “Siegel said she was previously unaware of hunting season dates and agreed to move the hearing to October.”

    Lord Almighty, that is rich. VT Digger is full of belly laughs today.

    The provision regarding how people store their guns is baffling. Are you going to do city-wide “firearm safety inspections” — how does this get enforced?

    Regardless, probably a moot question given the certain fate of this proposal.

  16. Mike Barone :

    Ironically, if you were taping our phone or e-mail conversations, you could hear of our retirement considerations, where best to preserve our disciplined savings accumulations by which state, pay role tax retirement tax etc, that best preserved our toil! Vermont was already loosing, but for our constitutional right Vermont once and still proudly afforded. Where to best allow my family the right to self preservation were also part of our final residency choice. Burlington will too be off limits to our financial support. The same tools you progressive’s use aginst fiscal and moral conservitve is about to come home to roost when a legislative body elects to preserve the criminally insane, criminal or social devient above good men and women who choose life over submission to devient behavior.
    Mike

  17. Danny Duval :

    Maybe we should do as Colorado is doing and have a voter recall? It is time to get these people out of office. I live in Ward7 and would would cast my vote to get Tom Ayres out of office in a heartbeat.

  18. Pat McGarry :

    Patrick Cashman- note that the federal prohibition as it relates to “a restraining order” applies only to a Vermont final abuse prevention order pursuant to 15 VSA 1103 (but not an initial abuse prevention order, nor an order against stalking pursuant to 12 VSA 5133)

  19. kevin lawrence :

    I conceal carry all over Vermont in legal places. When I drive to NH, I have to unload and carry in “plain sight.” Funny how I get no comments in Vermont, but if I carry openly in NH, I get questions from curious people.

    People all over Vermont carry concealed, legally, and it’s not an issue because you do not know they have your back. However, if a person has to change behaviors depending on what municipality they travel through, people will not know boundaries and inadvertently break laws. (As an out-0f-town guy,)I certainly don’t know where Burlington and South Burlington lines are, for example.) Thus, a patchwork of laws based on municipal boundaries will only lead to legal uncertainty, confusing regulatory authority, and arrests of everyday citizens trying to live in the Vermont our Constitution promised us we could enjoy.

    • Peter Liston :

      Have my back? No. That’s just vigilante fantasy. I’ll take care of myself, thanks. I’d rather not get caught in your crossfire.

      That said, I agree that this idea out of Burlington is foolish. It’d also never pass the legislature. I’d wager a month’s salary on that.

  20. David Dempsey :

    It’s time for the arrogant people (not including the residents with real Vermont values) who run the city of Burlington to secede from the state of Vermont and form its own principality or, even better, petition the land of fruits and nuts, California, to take them in. I mean, really, what self respecting Vermont village, town or city would elect a town leader who didn’t know when rifle season is. It ought to be a crime.

  21. Bob Williamson :

    When Vermont’s largest city struggles to deal with the flood of heroin brought in by armed drug runners and our local police cannot serve those perps with a weapons violation (because Vermont lacks any state law prohibiting felons from having firearms), all Vermonters should be concerned. That lack of a state law is like a tax incentive, encouraging bad apples from out of state to come here and spread opiates. Mayor Weinberger and the Burlington City Council are rightly concerned, as should Gov. Shumlin.

    • Bob…what? This is a completely absurd argument.

      1) Carrying a firearm isn’t criminal conduct. This is why it is not illegal in Vermont. (Law is full of useful tautologies like this.)

      2) Possession and distribution of heroin? That IS criminal conduct, and LEO’s can sure “serve those perps” with charges aplenty for that.

      3) What pushes this into absurdity is the fact that the heroin charges we’re discussing here are felonies, which means your argument is a specious fantasy.

      Have you actually talked to any cops about this? For an activist you’re surprisingly unfamiliar with the situation. Come to Burlington instead of making assumptions from Woodstock.

    • Can you at least clarify what Vermonters “should be concerned” about? You seem to be implying that police have their hands tied and heroin dealers are getting away with it because of Vermont’s gun laws. Since that is not the case, what is the cause for concern?

      • Bob Williamson :

        Justin, because Vermont’s the only state without a state law prohibiting felons from having guns, armed drug runners from out of state come here. While local police can bust them from drugs, they cannot serve them with weapons violations. They can only refer them to the feds who have limited resources of time/money to pursue every case. That lack of a state law works like a tax incentive for drug runners to come here. I know from both several news stories and from firsthand accounts of a friend who moved to South Burlington of the spike in gun/drug crimes there. If Gov. Shumlin really believes we need “…a 50 state solution to fix our nation’s gun violence problem…”, we should join the other 49 states and institute a law making it illegal for felons to have guns here, period.

        • I appreciate the clarification, Bob.

          I would only suggest that the reason drug dealers come to Vermont is primarily because of the demand for their product: after all, “armed drug runners” also travel to 47 other US states — and even Alaska.

          • Bob Williamson :

            Justin, yes, armed drug runners do go to other states, but our lack of any state law prohibiting felons from having guns incentivizes their coming here. Local police can only refer such weapons cases to the feds, who have limited resources to prosecute every case. I just spent 3 hrs. this morning in federal district court in Rutland–a Massachusetts man allegedly shot a Vermont woman (with whom he’d had a relationship) in the head and killed her because he suspected she’d stolen drugs from him. This case showcases what’s going on here. Moreover, the guy had on his phone photos of several Vermont guns he’d obtained in exchange for drugs. Forty percent of Boston’s crime guns, according to Boston Police Supt. Paul Joyce, come from Vermont (Supt. Joyce shared that fact at a Bennington College forum I attended on 11/8/10). Vermont guns fuel crime elsewhere & draw bad actors here. When you have a mosquito problem, pretty soon you need to deal with the swamp. All other states do, and Vermont should do likewise.

          • patrick cashman :

            From the 3 Aug 2006 Free Press “Boston Billboard Pins Crimes on Vermont Guns”:

            “Boston Police Superintendent Paul Joyce said Vermont is not a significant source of guns used in crimes in his city, but that Florida, Maine and New Hampshire are.

            “We only had one illegal gun end up in Boston from Vermont in 2005,” Joyce said, adding that “secondary markets” for old guns, such as flea markets and “kitchen table” sales, make it more difficult to trace guns to where they were bought by criminals, even if the place of the first sale can be identified.”

            – See more at: http://vtdigger.org/2013/03/14/kunin-says-gun-safety-activists-must-not-be-silenced-by-the-extraord

    • Isaac Moore :

      Bob,

      The issue you bring up is not related to the article or the Burlington resolution.

      I’m not sure if / why anyone would argue with passing a law that made it illegal for convicted felons to possess firearms.

      • Bob Williamson :

        Isaac, ask Gov. Shumlin, House Speaker Shap Smith, and Senate President Pro-Tem why Vermont remains the only state lacking a state law to prohibit felons–that is, armed drug runners from out of state–from having guns. The Gov. says we need a 50-state solution to combat gun violence, adding that no state is an island, yet Vermont is a island with this glaring absence. It incentivizes drug runners to come here & exchange drugs for guns.

        • Isaac Moore :

          Bob,

          Not sure if you read my last post before responding. I have no issue with a law making it illegal for convicted felons to possess firearms. There are no other comments posted here to the contrary. This appears to be an area where agreement could be reached?

          Again, this topic is not relevant to the Burlington resolution or article.

      • Jason Wells :

        Why not prohibit felons? Are you even aware most felons have done nothing that involves a firearm? I think that when your time is done and your sentence has been served ALL RIGHTS should be restored. Keeping felons who are on probation parole etc from having a firearm is very warranted indeed but if we are afraid that these felons (once done their time) are not ready to live in our state/society then maybe we should have a look at the laws that let them out too soon or with not enough probation to ensure they have truly put their past behind them. People change and if they earn it and learn from their mistakes we should support it and not try to restrict their rights for the rest of their lives.

  22. “Slide Fire, based in Moran, Texas, plans to sell a semiautomatic rifle that mimics the rapid fire of a machine gun and is also fed bullets from a belt, which provides a huge capacity for ammunition — potentially thousands of rounds.” (http://money.cnn.com/2013/09/12/news/companies/slide-fire-gun/index.html?hpt=hp_t3)

    ” Can that be legal?

    The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says yes, since it’s still technically a semiautomatic.”

    Yes, we have too many firearms that are too easy to obtain.

    1) Titles that legally attach each and every firearm to an individual or business.

    2) Legal liability that recognizes the lethality of today’s firearms and the owner by title’s responsibilities to society at large. This means, as examples, prompt title transfer upon firearms transfer; prompt reporting of theft; responsibility for safe storage; responsibility for assuring those who are allowed to use the weapon do so in a safe manner.

    3) Background checks for EVERY transfer of firearms including inter-family.

    4) Drain the swamp – mandatory destruction of every firearm legally seized by the government.

    5) End “stand your ground” laws … the use of deadly force in self defense must be returned to a method of last resort.

    These are all common sense gun safety and gun control measures.

    • jason wells :

      Rama,
      “Slide Fire, based in Moran, Texas, plans to sell a semiautomatic rifle that mimics the rapid fire of a machine gun and is also fed bullets from a belt, which provides a huge capacity for ammunition — potentially thousands of rounds.” (http://money.cnn.com/2013/09/12/news/companies/slide-fire-gun/index.html?hpt=hp_t3)

      Thanks for the link. The smile on the woman’s face near the end of the video was priceless and totally worth the time to watch. Gotta love good ole American ingenuity.

    • Isaac Moore :

      Rama,

      Regarding Slide Fire, I have no experience with shooting 1) this particular gun, or 2) a fully automatic rifle, and therefore I can’t give any meaningful qualitative data about it. I’m assuming you can’t either?

      1) Not addressed in the context of this article or resolution, but could you explain how this would help gun control? I question it because, as has been stated before, cities with tighter gun laws have higher gun violence than those of Vermont, etc. and criminals, by definition, would not necessarily heed these laws.

      2) There are already laws associated with misuse of firearms. However, I would fully support educational courses / training hosted by the State. Perhaps something like a drivers license for guns?

      3) Also not addressed in the article. However, background checks seem like a no brainer. I’d even fully support that every private gun sale would need to be brokered by a gun dealership. Sound fair?

      4) Also not in the context of the article. However, instead of destruction, how about police / federal auctions first. The agency selling could also easily record gun / sales data.

      5) Again, not addressed in the context of the article, and already discussed above. I believe, and someone correct me if I’m wrong, that “ending stand your ground laws” would require a “Duty to Retreat” law. Which, again, differ depending on jurisdiction and I am uncomfortable with given that it would *probably* legally forbid me to immediately defend myself if attacked.

      • Isaac,

        That article is posted to emphasize just what we’re discussing when we talk about modern firearms.

        1) By attaching a title to every firearm that identifies a legal owner we can better track the flow of firearms. This will help eliminate straw purchases and allow us to go after folks who keep losing their firearms or have them stolen at an unreasonable and unbelievable level. In other words we will finally be able to get a handle on where these firearms are coming from and where they’re going.

        2) The laws regarding misuse of firearms are generally crap. How many people get prosecuted for “accidentally” discharging their firearm? (There is no such thing as an accidental discharge – guns don’t load guns, people do – and an unloaded gun cannot discharge.) The laws need to catch up with the lethality of the firearms – see the story I posted.

        3) It seems we could reach a point of easy agreement although I think the brokering wouldn’t be required if we had to transfer the title to a firearm.

        4)

      • (stooopit fongers hit the wrong key – continued from above)

        4) I contend our problems with firearms stem from too many that are too lethal and too easy to obtain. Part of my solution is removing firearms from existence – society is far better served by a level of disarming. I’m not interested in taking away firearms (with exceptions for those that due to a propensity for violence and other mutually agreed upon reasons).

        5) You obviously have no concept of what honest self defense is about. It is not about saying “Well they scared me so I shot them.” If someone scares you … leave. If someone is acting the part of a bully … be a man and leave if need be. Deadly force self defense, including the concept of “duty to retreat”, does not mean you cannot take an action when you are under real threat of severe physical harm or death. It has nothing to do with your home. It has nothing to do with not helping another under threat of the same physical harm.

        And the fact you keep a willful misunderstanding of self defense is an illustration of what worries me regarding “stand your ground laws”. They are being used as an excuse to not back away and let situations defuse – they are being used as an excuse to shoot another person regardless of the real need.

        At the end of the day I see no social benefit to living in a shooting gallery, and that is where we are headed under the current gun regime in this country. Look around you – Mexico, Columbia, Afghanistan, Libya. Look at cities such as Chicago and New York City that are at the end of firearm pipelines – much of which is fed by firearms that initially purchased on the open legal market.

        I have no intention of willfully going into that future, and I don’t see why sensible gun owners would want to either. You want to have extremely lethal firearms? Fine, but I want you to have more responsibility to society.

        • Curtis Sinclair :

          If you don’t want to go into that future you have your work cut out for you. “Stand Your Ground” laws have spread to half of the US. A national poll conducted by Quinnipiac University showed that a majority of Americans support “Stand Your Ground” The poll shows Americans support “Stand Your Ground” laws by 53 to 40 percent.

          I wonder why so many people support “Stand Your Ground” laws. Perhaps they just need more education on the subject.
          A study from Texas A&M University showed that “Stand Your Ground” laws result in no crime deterrence—while adding 500 to 700 homicides per year nationally across the 25 states with the laws.

        • Isaac Moore :

          Rama,

          1) I contend that enacting a tracking system would have no effect in the gun black market, for several reasons including, but not limited to, a) guns being smuggled into country, b) increase in legitimate theft of weapons, c) circumvention of implemented system through fake ID’s / erasure of title info, etc. There are several examples of places that enact very strict gun controls but see little benefit, New York, Chicago, Mexico as you mention. However, there exist very few examples of gun laws actually working, please provide any you see as pertinent.

          2) Instead of putting laws in place regarding misuse of firearms I’d prefer to be more proactive in trying to prevent accidents through education and training. Also, I would find it incredibly troubling if I was legally forced to keep my gun, which is used for home self defense, locked away in a room and the ammunition for said gun locked in a separate room / container. In my opinion this considerably diminishes my ability to defend myself in my own home.

          3) Done here.

          4) I contend our problem is not with firearms but with the people misusing firearms. If you take away all firearms there will still be violence. If you take away all reasons for violence there will be no reason to fear firearms.

          5) I’m surprised you claim I have “no concept of what honest self defense is about”, which seems to be an ad hominem assault and discredits some of your arguments.

          YOU seem to make the incorrect assumption that a stand your ground law REQUIRES a person to shoot an attacker. It does not. In fact, stand your ground laws do not actually REQUIRE anything of the victim, but ALLOWS for a victim to match force for force that of the attacker, without attempting to run away first. However, one could still choose to run away, which is probably the best thing to do in many situations.

          According to duty to retreat laws, one is first REQUIRED to attempt to retreat from an attack. In my opinion this hampers one’s ability to defend oneself.

          You say you don’t want to live in a shooting gallery. I don’t want to live in a society where we are forced to run from criminals and are legally unable to defend ourselves.

  23. Dave Bellini :

    “…we are spending tens of thousands of dollars or more to harden our schools. This is happening for only one reason: the number and easy availability of firearms…”

    NO. Firearms in Vermont have always been available. Firearm availability is not a cause of increased gun violence in Vermont. In 5th grade we used to walk to the Montpelier Recreation Department, after dark, with 22 rifles and ammo, for target shooting instruction. More people hunted, it was common to see firearms carried in hunting season. Access and availability seemed greater in years past and there was no reason to “harden” schools. In fact, some schools had a rifle team.

    This is a glandular issue where real facts matter less than perception.

    There ARE reasons for the increase in mass shootings and steps should be taken to prevent gun violence. Politicians do not want to discuss nor take action that addresses the real underlying problems. It’s far easier to restrict objects than to address social, moral and intellectual decay.

  24. This list of people preparing themselves with firearms, and I acknowledge this is an extremely short one, proves my point regarding there being too many firearms that are too lethal and too easy to acquire.

    I find the prospect of living in a heavily armed society that will devolve into a shooting gallery repulsive – not admirable.

    As I stated above:

    1) Titles that legally attach each and every firearm to an individual or business.

    2) Legal liability that recognizes the lethality of today’s firearms and the owner by title’s responsibilities to society at large. This means, as examples, prompt title transfer upon firearms transfer; prompt reporting of theft; responsibility for safe storage; responsibility for assuring those who are allowed to use the weapon do so in a safe manner.

    3) Background checks for EVERY transfer of firearms including inter-family.

    4) Drain the swamp – mandatory destruction of every firearm legally seized by the government.

    5) End “stand your ground” laws … the use of deadly force in self defense must be returned to a method of last resort.

    These are all common sense gun safety and gun control measures.

    • ernest broch :

      “These”, are not common sense measures.

  25. Curtis Sinclair :

    The NRA promotes ignorance by blocking research into firearms violence. In 1996 he gun lobby pushed to put restrictions on CDC funding of gun research into the budget. Restrictions on other agencies were added in later years.

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