4-14-15 – Gun Control Disguised as “Common Sense”

by Shayne Spence

“The gods of the valleys are not the gods of the hills, and you shall understand it.” – Ethan Allen

Opponents to Montpelier’s latest installment of gun control testified before the House Judiciary Committee on April 9, 2015, and their message was a resounding rejection of S. 141.  This legislation is largely redundant, as it simply changes Vermont law to more closely mirror federal law regarding felons and those with mental illness owning guns.  But despite the apparent lack of new restrictions, this bill will have many negative side effects, as opponents laid out in their testimony.

Chris Bradley of the Vermont Federation of Sportsmens Clubs was unequivocal in his opposition to the bill, calling it redundant, unnecessary, and pointing out that provisions dealing with felon ownership of firearms represents an unfunded mandate.  Since there are already federal laws on the books, with federal resources paying for enforcement of those laws and incarceration by those laws, Vermont is able to save significant money letting Uncle Sam take control of those cases.  By passing a mirror law in Vermont statute, we take responsibility for those cases, along with whatever financial responsibility that brings.  This was brought up during floor debate in the Senate, but ultimately ignored in the rush to pass the bill.

Bill Moore of the Vermont Traditions Coalition asked members of the committee, “Why are we here?  It certainly not because Vermont has a violent crime or firearms crime problem.”  He pointed out that in many states across the country, including deeply blue Illinois, legislatures are taking an opposite approach to firearms, with “Vermont Carry” passing through State Houses nationwide in an attempt to make sure firearms are in the right hands.

Both men and their respective organizations stood firmly in opposition to any waiting period to restoring constitutional rights after the courts find a person to be no longer a threat to themselves or others.  Senator Joe Benning, who is a lawyer when he is not a lawmaker, testified that it oftentimes takes six months to a year to complete normal civil proceedings, creating an effective waiting period by merits of scheduling.  To add another 18 months on top of that, as S. 141 proposes to do, would be unnecessarily restricting someone’s 2nd Amendment and Article 16 rights, long beyond the point when they had been adjudicated to be safe.

S. 141 appears to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  When it comes to firearms, the control does not come in a flood, but in slow trickles.  Vermont lawmakers have (rightfully so) been loath to change gun laws here, fearing the electoral backlash that could come.  Those floodgates are slowly starting to come open.  H. 735 of 2014 further restricted a certain group of person from owning firearms, and S. 141 proposes to add two new groups to that restricted class.  It is only a matter of time before the gun grabbers in Montpelier become more brazen and attempt to go further.  As Gun Sense VT President Ann Braden said, “This is a good first step.”

Shayne Spence is the Outreach and Development Coordinator for the Ethan Allen Institute.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve Hearne April 18, 2015 at 12:29 pm

We must challenge those who have ignored and betrayed us in the next election with candidates who will stand for freedom and unity.


Ned Dubois April 18, 2015 at 12:32 pm

I took the time to evaluate Mr. Spence’s trickle-down statement by reading H 735 on firearms. The way H 735 2014 reads is that it effectively removes any firearms from the possession of people who are deemed a threat to others but is called Disposition and Fee for Storage of Unlawful Firearms. The way they are qualified for this law is through other laws: “a court order issued under 15 V.S.A. chapter 21 (abuse prevention) or any other provision of law consistent with 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8)”.
What happens is once the firearm is retrieved a storage fee per week is assessed and, depending on the length in months or years, eventually the fee will over reach the value of the firearm or ammunition retrieved, hence lawful confiscation.
I guess the question is “how easy is it to be adjudicated under one of these laws”? If one of those laws are made more restrictive then that “trickles-down” to a change in the Firearms Laws without ever identifying it as doing so.


jim bulmer April 18, 2015 at 5:53 pm

Interesting, legislatures are concerned about voter backlash when it comes to gun control issues, but when it comes to taxation, they say “voter be damned.”


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