Attack on and Defense of the Second Amendment

January 13, 2020

by Jeff Kaufman, MD

This piece was created as a letter to WVMT radio hosts Marcus and Kurt following an interview segment with Senator Philip Baruth (D-Chittnden). Printed here with permission. 

Dear Marcus and Kurt,

Congratulations on an excellent segment.  You were well prepared and gave Senator Baruth plenty of rope.  Here’s what I heard him using it for.
He began by giving a small window,  seen in retrospect, into his mindset.  Answering one of your questions about how he felt about the upcoming legislative session, he expressed some distress with having to wait while he was seeing problems he couldn’t yet fix.  He opened other windows as he continued to speak.
I found he went on during your interview with him to reveal some of the fears which drive him to use his ranking senatorial position in an attempt, I believe, to assuage his psychic tensions.  He expressed several of these fears during the half hour segment.
In no particular order, topics Senator Baruth raised included his citing of Charlottesville as an example of a problem he has with public carry of rifles.  He described a scene wherein a neo-Nazi group was protesting and a second amendment group was carrying AR-15 semiautomatic rifles.  He said the leader of the Second Amendment group revealed that their purpose for being there was to express their Constitutional right to carry on public.  However, he said that to him, they were there for the purpose of intimidating others.  He is opposed to public carry of firearms, in this case long guns.
What the Senator is missing is one of the most important reasons we have a Second Amendment.  Vying for self defense is the power of deterrence.  How does Burlington, a city of 42,000 people, maintain law and order with only 100 police officers?  Deterrence.
Effective deterrence removes the need for the use of force. Gentle deterrents operate on our roadways in the form of speed limit or radar in use signage.  More obviously with the police car parked by the roadside, highly effective, even when vacant!  Our very Constitution and state laws themselves act as deterrents to antisocial behaviors.  Our courts and prisons are stronger deterrents, and amongst the most serious are penalties for the worst behavior such as for murder, where in some states the deterrent effect of the death penalty still saves lives.  On the global scale a world super power avoids war by its ability to use ultimate power.  The deterrent effect of firearms in the hands of “we the people” have protected Americans for over 230 years from criminals at the local level, from foreign aggression, and from the ever present threat of tyranny.  Marcus, the caller who reminded us how German Jews ended up in ovens must not be dismissed!  We are not there yet, as you said, in large part because we protect and defend our liberty according to the Constitution without compromise.
Senator Baruth said he does not want to be in a movie theater and have to worry that half the people in the theatre are carrying concealed firearms.  He is opposed to concealed carry (by implication, of hand guns).  Neither his personal feelings nor his exaggeration has any bearing on Vermont life nor experience.  He suggested risk from firearm ownership is cause for concern giving vague references to problems other states may be having.  He gave no data to back that up.  In fact, good data does demonstrate the extraordinary safety Vermonters enjoy and have enjoyed historically in the Green Mountain State.  Nor is there data to suggest that is changing for the worse.
He gave a self admitted crazy hypothetical as justification to confiscate firearms from the general public – he described concerns over a situation wherein an airline pilot becomes medically incapacitated and the aircraft’s being saved by a civilian (presumably talked down) who saved the plane and it’s passengers.  He then transitioned to further the hypothetical asking what would happen if any passenger were to decide to take over the plane?  Could they without proper training and certification safely land the plane?  He’s right, this was a crazy thought he had which has no bearing on firearms, Vermont, deterrence nor the Second Amendment.
As to how he operates when writing laws that affect every single Vermonter’s life, liberty and their ability to defend it and, important to the conversation about the Second Amendment and Article 16, to deter threats to obviate the need for defense, Senator Baruth’s fears, anxieties and input from a single person or group of several special interest people seem to be used to determine the fate of all of us.  He referred on two occasions during the interview to conversations he had, one with some unnamed person, the other with two (or three?) unnamed people.  By the input he received from these people he said he was revising the bills after giving them some additional thought. He said the second group agreed to compromise with him on gun control restrictions and as he said to a caller, he appreciates compromise.
Kurt asked him how he felt about the constitutionality of the new gun control laws he’s writing to which he unsurprisingly said he doesn’t believe they’re unconstitutional.  I believe he knows very well they are unconstitutional and violate both the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment and Vermont’s Constitution, Article 16, some also violating Vermont’s Sportsmens Bill of Rights.  I believe, based on his actions and words over time, that he feels he can get away with it and is acting with impunity.
I hope this gives some further good for thought.
– Jeff Kaufman

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

John de Bruin January 13, 2020 at 10:17 pm

Excellent article Jeff. Your insight of Sen Baruth is spot on. His personal feelings for firearms should not cause him to violate the most sacred documents of freedom (U.S. Constitution & VT Constitution) as well as his Oath of Office to protect the people of this state and not make law abiding citizens into criminals.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

About Us

The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

Latest News

VT Left Wing Media Bias Unmasks Itself

July 24, 2020 By Rob Roper Dave Gram was a long time reporter for the Associated Press, is currently the host of what’s billed on WDEV as a...

Using Guns for Self Defense – 3 Recent Examples

July 24, 2020 By John McClaughry  The Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal last week published eleven news stories about citizens using a firearm to stop a crime. Here are...

FERC ruling on solar subsidies could help Vermont ratepayers

July 21, 2020 By John McClaughry Last Thursday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission finalized its updates to the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), in what the majority...

The Moderate Left’s Stand for Free Speech

July 17, 2020 By David Flemming Harper’s Magazine, a long-running monthly magazine of literature, politics, culture, finance, and the arts, is hardly what you would call a ‘politically...

Trump’s Regulatory Bill of Rights

July 16, 2020 by John McClaughry “President Trump [last May] issued an executive order entitled  ‘Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery.’ The executive order includes a regulatory bill...