EXCLUSIVE: Preemptive Strike
Back before a handful of other states adopted “Constitutional Carry” laws providing for permitless carrying of concealed firearms, the practice was called “Vermont Carry,” as the Green Mountain State stood alone throughout the 20th Century in not prohibiting it. Long known for lenient gun laws and low numbers of homicides, Vermont represented the perfect real-world test of economist John Lott’s “More Guns Less Crime” thesis.
Which made it a threat to the gun-grabbers…
Vermont had also enacted firearms preemption legislation, meaning laws were set by the state, prohibiting municipalities from establishing a “patchwork quilt” of conflicting ordinances that would make it practically impossible to “lawfully” possess a gun and comply with edicts across all jurisdictions. And so far, despite Vermont being a notoriously “progressive” state politically (“Independent” Senator Bernie Sanders openly identifies as a socialist), the 2-edged sword preemption can present has been blocked in the legislature: Several attempts at enacting “gun control” edicts in 2013 did not make it out of committee, and Governor Peter Shumlin even signed the Sportsmen’s Act, ensuring those bow hunting or dog training could also carry a handgun for self-protection provided they did not use it to harvest game.
Thwarted at the state level, anti-gun forces turned their focus on eviscerating state preemption, and the City of Burlington provided the perfect political environment. Overwhelmingly dominated by the left (the Council is comprised of two Independents, four Progressives, seven Democrats and one Republican, and the mayor is a Democrat), the Council’s Charter Change Committee, per the Vermont Journalism Trust’s VT Digger news website, proposed ordinances to “ban assault weapons, restrict those with domestic violence convictions from obtaining a firearm, require a permitting process for concealed weapons, ban firearms from establishments that serve alcohol, and require that firearms be kept ‘under lock and key,’ separate from another locked location where ammunition is kept.”
Disturbingly, the chair of the committee told followers she was holding the resolutions “at the urging of the GunSense Vermont organizers [to] give them more time for the statewide strategies they are working on.” Committee minutes also referenced correspondence that “includes language from Gun Free VT” and asks “if it includes [New York City Michael] Bloomberg’s model that [Burlington Mayor Miro] Weinberger presented.”
Quick to respond to this threat, the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs filed a demand for documents related to official proceedings and correspondence so they could mount a defense against the measures that they warned would “slice and dice” the Vermont Sportsmen’s Bill of Rights. The city responded by denying and then stonewalling VFSC’s request and exempting over a hundred documents from public scrutiny (at this writing). While the resolutions passed by the Council have since been narrowed to three (guns in bars, mandatory storage and gun seizure following domestic violence reports), the changes still must face approval in March by Burlington voters, with the Vermont Legislature then authorizing cities to adopt their own gun laws. Backers have made it clear they’ll take what they can get and try for more later, with their stated goal being for other cities to adopt their own measures, ending preemption in Vermont.
And everywhere else…
By David Codrea