To be fair, this new bill doesn’t specifically ban the carrying of semi-automatic handguns. It would ban the carrying of all semi-automatic firearms in public spaces, and that includes the most commonly owned handguns in the state. From VTdigger.org:
Sen. Phil Baruth, D/P-Chittenden, said Tuesday he will be introducing legislation that would prevent people from carrying semi-automatic weapons in areas including parks, stores, restaurants, airports, places of worship, auditoriums, theaters and childcare facilities. It would also ban people from carrying semi-automatic firearms during political demonstrations.
Vermont has some of the least restrictive carry laws in the country. The only places the state currently prohibits people from bringing firearms are on school grounds and in state buildings. Unlike some states, Vermont does not require a permit to carry a firearm — concealed or open.
“Everybody’s sort of conditioned to accept the fact that in public, people are going to carry weapons that are designed to kill large numbers of human beings,” Baruth said.
The partial ban on where Vermonters can bring guns would not apply to handguns and rifles that are not semi-automatic. And under the legislation, the restrictions would not be in effect in all public places — downtowns, and public streets would not be included, for example.
“I don’t think we’ve reached a consensus on banning assault weapons,” Baruth said. “But I do think we’ve reached a consensus that we don’t want them in the public square.”
Baruth is now calling the vast majority of firearms in the state “assault weapons.” Semi-automatic handguns are by far the most popular and commonly owned firearms in the country today, but Baruth really believes that they should be illegal to carry for self defense. Just as troubling is the fact that Baruth’s proposal is apparently going to get a serious look.
Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said it was too early to say whether he would support the bill. But he said he’s “certainly more than happy to discuss” the legislation and sees some logic in it.
“It’s hard to argue why you need to carry an assault weapon at a football game,” he said.
Sen. President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, D/P Chittenden, who has not yet reviewed the proposal, signaled openness to it Wednesday.
“I think generally speaking, people would acknowledge that the places you just described are not ones that probably are appropriate for people to bring assault weapons to,” he said.
Legally speaking, this bill is going to run into some serious constitutional issues. The Supreme Court has already said that arms that are in common use for lawful purposes are protected by the Second Amendment, and there’s no doubt that semi-automatic firearms are in common use for a variety of lawful purposes, including self-defense.
Baruch might claim that this isn’t a ban on the possession of semi-automatic firearms, only a ban on the bearing of those arms, but I don’t think that would be a winning legal argument. It also doesn’t pass the common sense test.
Are we really to believe that someone intent on murdering as many innocent lives as possible will decide to use a revolver because state law prohibits him from carrying a semi-automatic firearm? It’s absurd, and it has the potential to cost lives, because those armed citizens who complied with the law would be at a severe disadvantage if forced to defend themselves or others with a six-shooter.
This is a dumb idea on many levels, but it’s certainly a revealing look at where gun control activists are heading in 2020. They don’t just want to ban your AR-15 or “scary black rifle.” They’re going after your Glock, your 1911, your Sig P365, and the vast majority of firearms in private hands.