Guest editorial: Minter’s call for gun control seperates her from the pack

It’s a fool’s errand to speculate as to which of the three Democratic gubernatorial candidates is the preferred choice of Vermonters. Little polling has been done and the turnout for the Aug. 9 primary is expected to be relatively low. No one’s insight is any keener than anyone else’s; most of the campaigns are depending on solid field organizations to get their supporters to the polls.
The three candidates — Sue Minter, Matt Dunne and Peter Galbraith — find themselves in the position of needing to separate themselves from the pack. Apart from their organizations, they’re searching for issue positions that resonate with those most likely to vote.
There is little difference between the three on core issues. They all want the minimum wage to be higher. They all want college to be more affordable. They all want more and better jobs. They all want to be seen as socially liberal and fiscally responsible.
As for efforts to distinguish themselves from one another, Mr. Dunne has tried to identify as the person closest to the Bernie Sanders philosophy. Mr. Galbraith touts himself as the one most able to take on corporate America with specific proposals as to how his proposals can be accomplished.
And Sue Minter has picked guns.
That is certainly one way to separate yourself from the pack.
She says gun control will be her top priority as governor. She is pushing for universal background checks for all gun sales and she wants military-style weapons banned.
Give her credit. She’s got guts.
Ms. Minter’s old boss, Gov. Peter Shumlin, thinks Vermont’s gun laws are fine the way they are and opposed the gun control legislation considered by the Legislature this past session.
In other words, she’s not leaning on him for advice.
Not even Bernie Sanders would dare take on Vermont’s gun community. Mr. Sanders beat Republican House incumbent Peter Smith in 1990 by being more conservative on gun control issues than Mr. Smith, thus gaining the support of the National Rifle Association.
So, she’s not listening to Bernie. Or fellow Democrats Patrick Leahy or Peter Welch.
It’s not that Ms. Minter favors universal registration and is opposed to military-style assault rifles when her Democratic opponents are not. They are. The difference is one of priorities. She says it would be her top priority. It is not the number one cause of either Mr. Dunne or Mr. Galbraith. Far from it.
The difference is everything. It separates the active from the passive. We’ve never had a governor who put gun control as a top priority.
It’s a calculated gamble for Ms. Minter.
She’s playing for the women’s vote, also hoping there is also a rising tide of women frightened at the prospect of a Trump/Pense administration, one that would be decidedly unfriendly to their best interests. She is connecting gun control to the issue of domestic violence in Vermont, depending on the confluence of both to make the difference on Aug. 9.
But what may work for her in the primary could complicate her life in the general election.
Most Vermonters favor universal background checks, and most favor banning military-style assault weapons. But most Vermonters don’t view either as the state’s top priority. Both Republican gubernatorial hopefuls — Bruce Lisman and Phil Scott — think the state’s gun control laws are sufficient. It’s too narrow a reed to stand on in the general election.
That said, the general election is of little concern if she loses the primary. Thus, the calculated gamble. If she can coalesce the women’s vote around her candidacy, she most likely wins.
Calculations aside, voters are also looking for candidates willing to buck the system, to fight back against the status quo. They’re looking for those with the political courage to say what others don’t dare.
Ms. Minter has taken that challenge. It’s easy to rail against banks, Wall Street, corporations and the one-percenters. It’s easy to call for free tuition and better, cheaper health care.
It’s quite another to take on Vermont’s gun lobby.
She’s done that. She’s the one with the guts.
By Emerson Lynn, St. Albans Messenger

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