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Editorial: Common sense gun control

Vermonters once again demonstrate their unusually astute common sense in the latest poll concerning appropriate gun control: 61 percent of residents polled favored or strongly favored banning the sale of assault weapons; 54 percent supported making it illegal to own an assault rifle. An overwhelming 84 percent supported a measure requiring stricter reporting by mental health professionals to the National Instant Background Check System — a measure that would alert, and hopefully prevent,  gunshops from selling firearms to prospect buyers with a record of mental instability.
The poll was conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute at Castleton State College and was conducted between Feb. 6-17 with a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.9 percent. The poll shows that Vermonters are more willing to accept firearms limitations with regard to assault weapons than are Americans at large. Even among Vermont gun-owners, more than 50 percent favored banning the sale of high-capacity magazinees or clips, banning the further sale of assault weapons and closing the loophole on sales at gun shows; only 40 percent of gunowners, however, favored making it illegal to own an assault weapon.
The good news about the findings in this poll is not just that Vermonters are so much more reasonable than other folk, but that there should be room for compromise in the national debate.
A good bet is that even the recalcitrant NRA would favor measures that would keep guns out of the hands of those with a history of mental illness, or at least add a layer of common-sense questioning before gunshop owners hand over an AK-47 with a high-capacity magazine. And likely, Americans could agree to restrict access to the wide variety of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines — particularly those sold to the angry bloke who walks off the street and, perhaps for the first time in his life, wants to suddenly take on the world.
Vermonters demonstrate time and again that reasonable people can devise reasonable laws to promote the public good. The state Legislature should blaze a path for the rest of the nation to follow.
Angelo S. Lynn

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