Vermont has long had one of the best gun rights records in the nation, but supporters of citizen control in Burlington’s city council are pushing three amendments to create local restrictions.
In October of last year, Burlington’s City Council put three gun control amendments to the city’s charter up for voter approval on Town Meeting Day.
The changes would ban guns from any establishment with a liquor license; allow police to seize firearms after domestic abuse incidents; and require “safe storage” of firearms.
Evan Hughes is the vice president of the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, a group that lobbies to keep Vermont’s gun laws among the most relaxed in the nation. He says changes to those laws should not be decided by individual towns.
“People comply with the law best when they understand the law, and it’s uniform throughout the state,” said Hughes.
Hughes cites what he calls the “Sportsmen’s Bill of Rights.” It’s a law that states no individual town or city in the state can directly regulate hunting and fishing, or regulate firearms.
But Burlington’s proposed charter change explicitly establishes an exemption to the law Hughes referenced. And gun control advocates say that if the state won’t pass stricter gun laws, it’s up to individual communities to take action.
Local restrictions establishing fiefdoms from one town to the next are absurd when applied to any right, not just the Second Amendment. Allowing such restrictions makes it difficult, if not impossible, for citizens to know what their rights are as they move from town to town.
Burlington residents will vote upon the three amendments tomorrow. If the three amendments are defeated then the issue is effectively over for now, but if any of the amendments are passed, they still must be approved by the state legislature, who has to approve any changes to the city’s charter.
Laws that restrict individual liberty, give power to the state, and manufacture crimes, are bad.
Let’s hope that the citizens of Burlington realize that they have such a low crime rate because of the freedoms that they currently enjoy, and that moving towards making themselves a “little Chicago” will only encourage crime, not prevent it.
Image credit: Ryan Mercer, The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press via USA Today