Opinion: Clergy recommend stricter gun control measures

Editor’s note: This letter was sent to state representatives and senators serving Addison County and copied to the Independent.
We are members of the Middlebury Area Clergy Association. In writing you today in support of stricter regulation of guns and gun trafficking, we speak as individuals, not as representatives of our congregations.
Vermont is fortunate for various reasons not to suffer the levels of gun violence seen in many other areas of the country. But we know that each year many Vermonters are killed or injured in crimes and accidents involving guns. Many others are threatened by armed relatives, friends or strangers, or simply live in unnecessary fear because it is too easy for guns to end up in the hands of people who can’t or won’t make sure they are secure and used safely.
We also know that loopholes in our laws for the sale of guns attract buyers for guns used in crimes elsewhere. Moreover, Vermont’s lax gun regulations are cited by advocacy groups like the National Rifle Association as “proof” that stricter gun regulations elsewhere are misguided. These claims pay no attention to the local cultural and population conditions that play an important role in our safety record or to the use of Vermont guns in out-of-state crimes. Thus, the situation in Vermont is misrepresented by the NRA and others to undermine the efforts of citizens in other states to make their neighborhoods and cities safer.
The vast majority of Vermonters agree that stricter gun regulations are one crucial step in addressing these shortcomings. No regulation is perfect. But that is not an excuse for doing nothing to address the needless gun-related suffering Vermonters now endure and the suffering our lax regulations contribute to beyond our borders. We urge you to courageously stand up to the well-funded pressure tactics of the gun lobby and support efforts to pass common sense changes to gun laws that are widely supported by Vermonters, including hunters and target shooting enthusiasts.
Rev. Barnaby Feder, Middlebury
Rev. Andrew Nagy-Benson
Rev. Daniel Cooperrider
Rev. Tim Franklin
Rev. Susan McGarry
Rev. Lucy Pellegrini
Rev. Mary Kay Schueneman
Spencer Putnam

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