If you’re a lawmaker who is going to stake out an anti-gun position, regardless of your other politics, you’d damn well better be prepared to defend your position. Especially when you’re a Republican.
That’s where Vermont Governor Phil Scott found himself recently when he spoke to folks at a gun range.
Vermont’s hunting season is around the corner and state leaders are touting the industry’s economic impact to the economy. At the same the Republican Governor Phil Scott is defending his support for bills last year that raised the ire of many gun rights advocates.
Surrounded by outdoor enthusiasts at the Barre Fish & Game Club Thursday, Governor Phil Scott highlighted the impact of the state’s hunting industry.
But all of this comes about a year and-a-half after the governor supported several restrictions on guns. They include a red flag law allowing police to seize guns from people deemed to be a danger raising the purchase age to 21, expanding background checks, and limiting the capacity of magazines.
Some gun owners across the state saw the actions from a Republican governor as a betrayal. Scott acknowledges the bills aren’t popular with some. “Many here today weren’t happy with my decision — angry and disappointed — and I get that, and I understand it,” he said.
Scott then added, “Over time we’ve come together and found a way to work together on this issue, and I think that’s important. It seems like it’s the Vermont way to me.”
The problem is, outdoor sports may have some overlap with the Second Amendment in so far as people use guns for hunting, but outdoor sports is not a Second Amendment issue. You can’t take a pro-hunting stance and pretend that somehow absolves you of your gun control sins. It doesn’t.
People are upset that Scott backed such blatantly anti-gun positions. While a number of Republicans have suggested at least some support for red flag laws, the rest come right out of the Brady and Giffords playbook. That’s not something anyone in the gun rights community can accept or forgive very easily.
Yes, they can work with someone like Scott on a completely different issue, but I can’t help but think that Scott is seeing this as a sign that all is, if not forgiven, at least in the past. It shouldn’t be.
The truth of the matter is that Scott has proven he doesn’t care about the Second Amendment rights of the people of Vermont. He’s willing to sell them out whenever politically expedient. Those were the measures he backed last year, but what will he back next year? That’s the question people need to keep asking themselves when it comes to Governor Phil Scott.
Frankly, Republicans in the state may start looking at replacing Scott, who is serving his first two-year term. If he’s going to ignore the people who elected him so vehemently, there’s little risk in working against his reelection. Particularly via a primary challenge.
Of course, I don’t know that there’s really enough outrage at Scott over that within the party as a whole. It would probably behoove gun rights activists, though, to get to work so that Scott will at least get the message that his antics really aren’t appreciated.