FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 23, 2018
Governor Phil Scott hasn’t been paying attention if he thinks Vermonters will sit idly by as he changes his position and enacts new gun control. The ocean of orange at the January 30th statehouse hearing should be enough to inform anyone that Vermonters cherish their gun rights, as protected by both the second amendment and the Vermont Constitution’s sixteenth article.
The Vermont Libertarian party fully supports the inalienable right to self defense by keeping and bearing firearms. No law abiding citizen should be deprived of their rights because of the actions of a criminal.
The Governor states that it is his duty to keep the people of Vermont safe, and the Vermont Libertarian party agrees with him on this point. But to enact new gun control measures that violate due process and the right to keep and bear arms will not help achieve this goal, but will work in the long run against it. What we need instead of feel good measures are actual, tangible methods of protecting our children, and this is the lesson that the Governor needs to take to heart.
UPDATED ADDTIONAL TEXT:
Members are mixed but generally comfortable with supporting S.221, without amendments. It is being seen as a ‘criminal justice’ bill rather than as a gun control bill, and includes due process requirements and the same burden of proof as the state would need in any criminal case. It’s seen as both practical, and doesn’t affect normal Constitutional rights. However, the Vermont Libertarian Party cannot support the other 5 gun control measures being proposed.
Both H.422 and H.675 violate due process. Even beyond the firearms confiscation. What right does a judge have to impose any sort of punishment on a person who is innocent? H.876 is unnecessary as bump stocks are rarely used in shootings. Therefore, on what basis does anyone justify banning them?
In a vacuum, Universal Background Checks makes sense to many, until the details become transparent.
The majority of people with criminal records today are non-violent offenders, most for drug offenses, and many with marijuana convictions – ironic, considering we have just legalized marijuana in Vermont. A background check will not only flag these people, but will disproportionately affect minorities who are caught up in this system. Forward-thinking people have appropriately proposed sealing these types of convictions so that non-violent offenders can be re-integrated into society and get jobs – and yet this throws that entire effort into chaos.
Concerning “mental health” records, many of our Veterans who return from overseas are assisted with mental health counseling for PTSD. These are men and women who know how to safely use firearms better than most – and yet, they are precisely the ones who will be caught up in mental health check. Are we now going to require that physicians and counselors report the details of privileged patient-client information into a new government database? Will we disarm those who have fought for us? Senate Bill 221 adequately handles this situation.
Background checks have a history of denying the exercise of federal and state Constitutional Rights. In neighboring Massachusetts, a US Coast Guard Auxiliarist serving at Station Burlington, with Homeland Security Clearance, no criminal record of any kind, and who was fingerprinted with the FBI no fewer than 11 times (for Coast Guard work and during the adoption of 6 children and foster care of three others) – waited EIGHT MONTHS to receive his license – in spite of state law requiring a decision within 60 days. No one should have to wait that long to exercise a Constitutional right to protect themselves.
Finally, the Vermont Libertarian Party opposes any effort to raise the age for purchase of firearms to 21, as it is an insult to the people who we consider old enough to vote for in state elections at age 18. At 18, they can join the military and carry military-grade automatics, and they can be trusted as armed police officers in our Towns…but they would not be able to purchase a hunting firearm in a state with a long, proud history of hunting.
About Vermont Libertarian Party
The Vermont Libertarian Party is an affiliate of The National Libertarian Party. The motto of the VTLP is “Small Government, Low Taxes, More Freedom.” The VTLP has been more or less active in the Green Mountain State since the early 1980s. Despite the relatively small size of our state Party, the Libertarian Party is the largest third party in the country and driving a renaissance in libertarian thinking in this country.
Jeremy Ryan, Chair
Vermont Libertarian Party
PO Box 5475
Burlington VT 05402-5475