Vermont Libertarian Party
Chris Costanzo, State Chair
PO Box 276
Randolph, Vermont 05060-0276
Date: June 22, 1998
LIBERTARIAN PARTY SUPPORTS COURT CHALLENGE TO RUTLAND GUN ORDINANCE!
The Vermont Libertarian Party applauds and supports the civil suit filed on June 10, 1998 in Rutland County Superior Court by attorney Cindy Hill against the City of Rutland and against the Rutland Police Department for the unlawful detention of two adults for carrying firearms in the city.
The suit also seeks to have the Rutland ordinance, which bans carrying firearms in the city, declared illegal. The Rutland authorities have used the city's firearms ordinance, which is in violation of Vermont state law, to harass law-abiding gun owners.
In July 1996 district court judge David Suntag ruled that a similar ordinance in the City of Barre was illegal by virtue of its incompatibility with state law. The city of Barre then rescinded its ordinance. At that time attorney Hill represented Evan Hughes who had been charged with violating the Barre ordinance.
Mr. Hughes, a member of the Libertarian Party, subsequently gave city authorities in Rutland formal notice of judge Suntag's decision, since Rutland's ordinance is similar to that of Barre. Mr. Hughes attempted to persuade Rutland authorities to repeal their illegal gun ordinance, urging instead that the City make use existing state laws to prosecute criminals who threaten or commit violent acts with guns. Mr. Hughes also warned the City of Rutland of the possibility of civil rights suits such as the one that attorney Hill has now filed against the city. Rutland did not respond to Hughes' certified letters, and took no action to repeal its gun ordinances. Since Rutland has been on notice regarding the illegality of its gun ordinance, it must, therefore, be held responsible in law for any damages incurred in applying them.
"The continuing enforcement of this kind of ordinance, in the face of a judicial ruling as to its illegality, is reprehensible," said Vermont Libertarian Party State Chair Chris Costanzo. "It's an abuse of governmental authority of the worst kind," he added. "It's designed to intimidate honest gun-owners who don't know that the restrictions are illegal, or who lack the resources to contest them in court."
Funds to challenge the Rutland ordinance are being raised by Vermont Libertarian Party members Evan Hughes and Fred Pike, as well as other Libertarians such as Don O'Donnell, Libertarian candidate for district representative for Washington 2, and Ed Cutler, Libertarian candidate for district representative for Windham 1.
The Vermont Libertarian Party works closely with Vermont gun rights organizations to defend their constitutional rights. The Party will continue to lead the struggle in Vermont against abusive excesses of governmental power that infringe on the fundamental rights of our citizens.