Video + Story: Gun owners rally at Statehouse to protest fee bill, Burlington charter vote | VTDigger
 

Video + Story: Gun owners rally at Statehouse to protest fee bill, Burlington charter vote

Gun rights advocates Sunday gathered on the Statehouse steps for a three-hour rally to oppose votes the Legislature could take in the next two months about guns.

The protesters wore blaze orange hats, held signs, waved “Don’t tread on me” flags and cheered for speakers who called on lawmakers to preserve Vermont’s gun laws, which are regarded among the most lenient in the nation.

Organizers said approximately 700 individuals attended, based on the number of raffle tickets handed out. About 200 were on the steps at 2 p.m.

Gun owners at the rally said protecting their right to bear arms is about more than hunting.

“I wanted to show my support for the Second Amendment and show my displeasure in the politicians that want to slowly erode our rights as individual to protect ourselves from criminals and, if it had to come to it, our politicians,” said Arthur Wood of Waterford.

The advocates gathered to protest two gun-related measures that could come up for a vote before the legislative session ends in May.

The first is a possible change to the Burlington city charter. Voters in the Queen City last week approved three measures that would tighten gun ordinances.

Lawmakers typically quickly rubber-stamp municipal charter changes, but in this case, legislators have said they may delay approval of the Burlington ordinances until next session.

Protesters Sunday called on legislators to act now, long before the November elections. They also booed Rep. Linda Waite-Simpson, an Essex Democrat who has proposed several unsuccessful gun control measures and has attempted to find middle ground on the issue with representatives of the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs.

The activists also demonstrated against a measure designed to create better storage facilities for firearms surrendered by people subject to relief from abuse orders.

A broad fee bill, H.735, contains a provision that would allow sheriffs to create guidelines and charge a fee to store surrendered guns. The bill also authorizes federally licensed firearms dealers to hold the guns.

Guns are often held by friends or relatives because of a lack of safe storage facilities. Advocates for victims of domestic violence, law enforcement officials and others say this option is insufficient and potentially dangerous.

Gov. Peter Shumlin, a gun rights advocate, supports the gun storage provision.

“The governor is optimistic that this common sense approach, similar to provisions in other states, will prevail in the Legislature,” Shumlin spokeswoman Susan Allen said Monday in an email.

The Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, a state affiliate of the National Rifle Association, said it initially supported the measure but now is unsatisfied with the current version of the bill, which has passed the House floor and is before the Senate Finance Committee.

Gun Owners of Vermont opposes the bill altogether. An attorney for the group, Cindy Hill, wrote a legal analysis of the bill. She says the proposed law would create “a program for the illegal seizure of private property.”

“This bill outlines a process to effect a seizure of private property,” she wrote.

The state statute regarding relief from abuse orders does not explicitly say all persons must surrender firearms, but it gives judges discretion to include that as a provision.

Judge Amy Davenport, chief administrative judge for the Vermont courts, Monday said relief from abuse orders often specify that the person should not possess guns.

There is no way to know how many relief from abuse orders each year include a provision to surrender firearms, Davenport said.

In cases of a relief from abuse order, police cannot take a person’s firearms unless he or she surrenders them freely. They cannot, for example, search the home of someone who has been issued a relief from abuse order.

“The problem is (the law) doesn’t necessarily say you will turn your firearm over to the police,” said state police Major Glenn Hall.

When someone does surrender his or her firearms, however, Vermont State Police store them at barracks around the state. Record keeping is spotty and often guns are stored with evidence in the only secure space, Hall said.

“It’s not just about putting the gun in a room. Somebody’s got to follow up,” he said.

Keeping track of surrendered firearms is a duty often thrust on a barrack’s evidence officer, Hall said. Local police departments may have even fewer resources or facilities, he said.

Relief from abuse orders typically last for a year. Emergency orders are often ordered first, for 10 days, then a hearing is held when a final order can be issued.

Frequently people turn their guns over to a relative or friend, Hall said, because there is no storage facility.

The fee for storage would give sheriffs the job of handling storage and tracking, Hall said.

Hall could not estimate approximately how many firearms Vermont State Police hold in cases of restraining orders, but said it is likely more than 100 and “a constant flow.”

Laura Krantz

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40 Comments on "Video + Story: Gun owners rally at Statehouse to protest fee bill, Burlington charter vote"

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Kim West
2 years 1 month ago

What I am not seeing here is the outrage that personal property can be taken just for being suspected of domestic violence. That is like taking my car because you suspect me of speeding. It is outrageous and even non gun owners should be nervous about this bill. Some of the perceptions perpetuated by the media are that Vt. gun owners are extremist right wing animal killing neanderthals. Nothing could be further from the truth. We come in all shapes and backgrounds. What boils my blood are the woman who stand in front of the cameras with their babies and… Read more »

Janice Prindle
2 years 1 month ago

Statistics across the nation, and in Vermont, show you are far more likely to be assaulted or shot by a domestic partner than by an intruder. And while most of our gun deaths in Vermont are suicides, most of the murders that take place here with guns are men shooting partners from whom they have been separated (as with restraint orders). There is a legitimate public interest in getting guns out of the hands of those individuals. The police need to be able to store them safely when a judge orders them to be removed — and there is a… Read more »

Kim West
2 years 1 month ago

I am not a Republican an NRA member nor a man. You paint with too large a brush. You will find there are many more of us out there than the media would like you to believe.

Amy Alexander
2 years 1 month ago

http://www.atg.state.vt.us/assets/files/2013%20Domestic%20Violence%20Fatality%20Review%20Commission%20Report.pdf

Here are you statistics for Vermont. Maybe if the victims were armed, things would have turned out differently.

Walter Carpenter
2 years 1 month ago

“Maybe if the victims were armed, things would have turned out differently.”

Perhaps. Perhaps not. There probably would be even more violent gun deaths, though. But, well, who cares.

2 years 1 month ago

Janice Prindle said –
most of the murders that take place here with guns are men shooting partners from whom they have been separated (as with restraint orders). –

Janice, you make these statements with no links or proof to back them up.

sandra bettis
2 years 1 month ago

a gun in the home is more dangerous for your children – read the statistics. these people don’t even want criminals to lose their guns so how can you have a reasonable conversation with them? they are all too willing to threaten anyone who wants to reduce their arsenals.

sandra bettis
2 years 1 month ago

and they want to kill the kid looking for drug money who breaks into your house – since when do we give the death penalty for breaking and entering???

2 years 1 month ago

Sandra, what would you do if you were home and some thug breaks into your home. Maybe, talk nice words to them as in an interview, once you determine why they are there you can then reason with them. But, one word of advice, don’t look at their faces, they will be sure to shut your eyes, no witnesses –

krister adams
2 years 1 month ago

Ray: You’re paranoid. No guns = no death = no suicide.

I know you will now call me a panzy but who really is the panzy?

Kim West
2 years 1 month ago

Are you saying that if we get rid of guns there will be no deaths and no suicide? You can’t honestly believe that. Check the stats on deaths and suicides that do not involve a gun. Note that if all guns go away those numbers will go up, not down.

Amy Alexander
2 years 1 month ago

I live alone and if you break into my house in the middle of the night, I will consider you a threat and you will be confronted with a loaded 12 gauge. Period. You need drug money, get a job. You’re hungry, go to the food shelf. Do NOT enter my home and threaten me. I don’t take assaults on me in my home lightly. I don’t want to shoot anyone – and I’ve been told by the police I would have been justified in the past when I didn’t – but, I’m not going to be a victim again.

Kim West
2 years 1 month ago

Sandra, we don’t WANT to kill anyone but we don’t want to die to prevent that. Often situations can be diffused without having to pull the trigger. Women often can not physically defend themselves from a stronger attacker, the gun levels the playing field.

sandra bettis
2 years 1 month ago

they wave signs that say ‘come and get it’ with a picture of an assault weapon then call themselves sane and reasonable???

Patrick Reilly
2 years 1 month ago

The flags say “Come and Take It”, (not “come and get it”) which is a tribute to the Gonzalez flag of 1831 though the statement dates from 1778 in Georgia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Come_and_take_it These people are not threatening you. They are law abiding citizens whom the state continually seeks to regulate and restrict under the sanctimonious guise of “common sense”. After all, who can argue against common sense! What is sane or reasonable in thinking that the state has a right to a person’s private property without due process? HOMICIDE IS ALREADY ILLEGAL. Your laws will not help prevent a damn thing… Read more »

Faeterri Silver
2 years 1 month ago

Yes, I would shoot anyone who enters into my home with (and I hate to have to now) my doors locked! I am a single woman living alone; you know I will protect my life before any drug addict or thief were to injure me.

Kim West
2 years 1 month ago

No according to them your supposed to allow yourself to be harmed or killed rather than shoot an innocent person entering your home illegally to steal from you.

krister adams
2 years 1 month ago

Faeterri: Do you have children, partner, parent, friend who has a key? What if they unlocked your door and entered and you shot them? That would suck, yes?

Patrick Cashman
2 years 1 month ago

By all means, if you don’t trust yourself with a firearm then don’t get a firearm. However the fact you don’t trust your neighbors with a firearm does not deprive them of their right to a firearm.

Kim West
2 years 1 month ago

My husband has returned unexpectedly and I know enough about what I am doing that I did not shoot him. What you people don’t understand is we don’t want to shoot anyone, we will have to live with the fact that we took a life for the rest of our lives. But we will be alive to do so.

Patrick Reilly
2 years 1 month ago

Krister, Below are the 4 basic rules of firearm safety. They are known by all responsible gun owners. The irresponsible owner scenario you describe is a very infrequent occurrence which points to an uneducated owner. The 1st Law – The Gun Is Always Loaded. The 2nd Law – Never Point The Gun At Something You Are Not Prepared To Destroy. The 3rd Law – Always Be Sure Of Your Target And What Is Behind It. The 4th Law – Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger Until Your Sights Are On The Target. People don’t just open fire at noises without… Read more »

sandra bettis
2 years 1 month ago

the first law is the gun is always loaded? do you realize that you are arguing AGAINST your side??

Patrick Reilly
2 years 1 month ago

The statement is meant to demonstrate a respect for the firearm. It is not to be taken literally, however every responsible owner treats every gun AS IF it is loaded at all times. That said, any firearm intended to be used for self defense is useless unless loaded when in service. A gun fires when the trigger is pulled. Stating that a gun is always loaded, even if it was to be taken literally is NOT arguing against my side unless you are of the belief that guns are dangerous in and of themselves. Those beliefs are only held (in… Read more »

Kim West
2 years 1 month ago

Vermont has the lowest crime rates in the country because we have guns in the homes. If gun laws worked there would not be more than 43 deaths by guns in a month in Chicago. Suicide by guns is not even worth mentioning in a suicide assisted state. If not guns then drugs, or knives. If one wants to take their life they will with or without a gun. If someone breaks into my home I guess I should stop him and ask him or her their intent. If all they want is money then I should just give it… Read more »

Walter Carpenter
2 years 1 month ago

“Vermont has the lowest crime rates in the country because we have guns in the homes. ”

Can you prove this? Is it only because of this or are other factors involved as well? And if Chicago did not have gun control the murders there would probably be double or triple what they are now. Without having the time to research it at the moment, it would be a safe bet that many of those guns used in Chicago are coming from surrounding states with lax gun laws.

Kim West
2 years 1 month ago

the fact that we have some of the lowest crime rates in the country and yet the areas of higher crime have strict gun controls laws is proof enough for me and thousands of others. In Vermont the problem is not broken, there is no reason to fix it. If it’s working why change it no matter what the reason?

Patrick Reilly
2 years 1 month ago

So you are saying that two to three times as many folks in Chicago would commit homicide if not for the strict firearm laws? That’s like saying I don’t drive down Church Street at 60MPH running over people because I don’t want a moving violation on my motor vehicle record (or scratched paint even.) What Chicago needs is parents who educate their children on right and wrong. Hard to do when the father usually isn’t in the household. Maybe if the courts would harshly punish those who use a gun in the commission of a felony we’d have fewer gangbangers… Read more »

Alex Darr
2 years 1 month ago

I was there at the rally and I support the positions held by those at the rally. We can’t allow the people obsessed with so called “safety” strip us of our liberties. There is a calculus of safety and liberty, and too many restrictions on us results in a police state. Don’t punish those of us who have never committed a serious crime by taking away our guns.

krister adams
2 years 1 month ago

I’m not entirely sure what it says about our society that many folks will vehemently defend the right to own a weapon but will not, with the same vigor, defend children’s rights, animal welfare, environmental destruction, etc., et6c. Sick & sad.

2 years 1 month ago

You are right. Let’s protect the children — and let’s use the same ideas that appear in the recent gun laws passed in NY, MA & CT.

Speeding in school zone? How about 3 years mandatory minimum prison sentence?

Passing a stopped school bus? How about 10 years — or maybe 20 to life.

Obviously — you have not read these laws and have no idea how what gun owners are facing just a few miles from my house.

Kim West
2 years 1 month ago

You can’t know that we don’t

2 years 1 month ago

OK — so that is WORSE — you have read and become familiar with the recent DRACONIAN, viscous and mass criminalizing new laws in NY, MA, CT — and think they are swell.

Patrick Reilly
2 years 1 month ago

I’m not entirely sure what it says about our society that many folks willfully support a Government monopoly on violence. I find it disgusting how little we’ve learned from history. I support Wounded Warrior Project, Naval Special Warfare Foundation, the Sons of the American Legion, and my local Chittenden County Animal Shelter. I also support ethical hunting. PETA would prefer the “biological surplus” animals in any given environment would simply die from disease or starvation over a long cold winter as opposed to having an ethical hunter kill the animal humanely and use all of its meat to feed his… Read more »

Kim West
2 years 1 month ago

Thank you Alex

Amy Alexander
2 years 1 month ago

I have a relief from abuse order and have been told by the State Police that there is nothing they can do when the guy violates it. Really? Okay, the next time he breaks into my house, I WILL do something about it. A year ago, I purchased a stove from Lowes and two guys from NY delivered it on a Saturday. The HUGE black guy was installing it while I stood and chatted with the hyperactive Hispanic guy. I was a little nervous about these two strangers in my home but got a chuckle when the Hispanic said “I… Read more »

2 years 1 month ago

I invite everyone to READ and become familiar with the recent DRACONIAN, viscous and mass criminalizing new laws in NY, MA, CT.

William Floyd
2 years 1 month ago

This article is reasonably fair and the reporter is not the problem. Please refer your comments to the issues and not to each other. Be civil and the world will see us as regular folks as opposed to “gun nuts” with a paranoia complex. Although the media is often hard pressed to get crowd estimates right, the article at least attempts to give credence to what we knew to be true. We had 800 plus participants over the three hours of the main event. At some times the crowd appeared closer to me to about 6oo plus as some left… Read more »

Patrick Reilly
2 years 1 month ago

Great argument. It’s disconcerting that something as basic as our form of Government needs to be explained to so many.

sandra miller
2 years 1 month ago

“All roads lead to confiscation and tyranny. ” This statement is the essence of the paranoid hysteria put forth by the NRA/pro unlimited guns . . . they’re coming for you, so you need to have your arsenal ready.
Vermont has a low crime rate because everyone has guns? Vermonters demonstrate a high degree of civility and respect.
Frankly, your right to own and carry guns in public places ends where my right to be safe begins. Congratulations to Burlington for standing and doing the right thing!

Bob Pierre
2 years 1 month ago

Sandra says,”Frankly, your right to own and carry guns in public places ends where my right to be safe begins.”

Please support your statement with a fact from Vermont.
Here in Vermont, citizens have been carry concealed without any requirements for over 107 years!
I have not heard of any rash of public shootings here.
You don’t feel safe? Is this feeling something new because of the bogeyman press or some recent revelation?

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