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Editorial: Gun control bill was a missed opportunity

It’s regrettable that Vermont’s Legislature failed to move gun control legislation through the House before the crossover deadline this Friday. The decision by Rep. Bill Lippert, D-Hinesburg, chair of House Judiciary, to kill the legislation (H.124) because there wasn’t time for ample testimony misses an opportunity to enact reasonable reforms that were so common-sense they didn’t need expert testimony or hours upon hours of whining by NRA apologists. Even more regrettable is the fact that too many House Democrats were afraid to bring the matter to a vote for fear of angering a few outspoken constituents.
The proposal legislation would have instituted three measures: tightening background checks for gun purchasers; limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds; and give local police the authority to enforce the federal law prohibiting felons and domestic violence offenders from possessing guns. The legislation did not place any limits on the sale of assault weapons. According to a recent poll, each of those provisions were widely supported by Vermont residents.
As it is, the next best step may be to keep the work alive by sending the discussion on tour this summer — not so much in a study committee, but in an educational tour around the state to inform Vermonters of the state’s current gun laws and what reasonable measures might be taken to limit the potential for tragedy. The aim of such gun control measures is not to restrict the sale of arms to responsible gun owners, but to prevent those who should not have access to guns the easy access they currently have.
Hence, minimal measures that seek background checks at gun shows, and refuse sales to those who have criminal records or mental instability just makes sense. Perhaps other measures might come from a summer tour, the result of which would be even broader legislation that the vast majority of Vermonters can embrace next year.
At least we hope that’s the outcome of this missed opportunity.
Angelo S. Lynn

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