Opinion: Proposed gun law makes sense
It was a privilege to be in Montpelier on Wednesday, Jan. 14 among those speaking at the press conference in support of a new state Senate bill to require universal background checks on gun sales in Vermont. This highly focused legislation will extend to gun shows and online sales the same background check requirements already in place for licensed gun retailers.
We cannot claim to be leaders in this field — 16 states already have similar requirements — but I look forward for the first time in my life to being able to exult, “We’re No. 17!” The experience in states with such regulations suggests that fewer Vermont women will be killed or injured in domestic abuse cases and that fewer Vermont guns will be trafficked to criminals in New York and Massachusetts once this bill becomes law.
Gun fundamentalists are already trying to confuse the issues, implying, for example, that this proposal will lead to gun registration requirements and other attacks on the Second Amendment right to bear arms. This bill will do nothing of the sort.
The gun fundamentalists also argue that this bill should be defeated because it can’t “solve” the gun violence problem. That’s not the point. Legislation never entirely solves any major problem. That’s not a reason not to do something that can reduce violence and gun abuse. Most gun owners get that, which is why polls show them overwhelmingly supporting the bill whenever its limited scope is explained to them.
In closing, I want to thank Sen. Claire Ayer for her leadership in co-sponsoring this bill. Gun fundamentalists have never failed to falsely brand proposed regulations, no matter how limited, as a full-scale attack on gun rights. They then go all out to make legislators like Sen. Ayer who do the right thing pay for it.
It’s up to us to assure our representatives that the majority who want sensible gun regulation will no longer be silent. Let’s encourage Sen. Chris Bray to join Sen. Ayer in supporting this bill. Please call or write both of them and check out opportunities to help at GunSenseVt.org.
Rev. Barnaby Feder
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