Governor’s office forced to respond to critics of new gun control stance

MONTPELIER, Vt. — The Scott administration is responding to a backlash from gun rights groups amid a wave of gun-control initiatives advancing at the Statehouse following the mass school shooting last month in Parkland, Florida.

Spokesperson Rebecca Kelley and legal counsel Jaye Johnson told True North in a joint interview that the governor’s supporters — many of whom are strong supporters of the Second Amendment — are speaking out against new regulations on firearms.

Rebecca Kelley

Rebecca Kelley, spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Phil Scott

Kelley said Scott continues to be a “fierce and strong supporter of all constitutional rights,” and reasserted that any policies he endorses will adhere to both the federal and state constitutions.

Nonetheless, she acknowledged receiving passionate feedback from constituents.

“We’ve had a lot of phone calls on both sides, really, since the shooting in Florida,” she said. “It’s been a broad range of sentiment from people, including people that want to take a range of actions, and people who express their support for the Second Amendment.”

In recent weeks, Johnson testified to the House Judiciary concerning S.221, which concerns extreme risk protection orders. The initial version of the bill had support from Second Amendment groups, but bipartisanship may not last.

“I’ve heard that from a few people that there’s a very fragile coalition behind the bill — that is a warning that I think we’ve received a number of times,” she said. “The governor is committed to moving forward with common sense reform and at the same time protecting our constitutional rights.”

She said the administration’s perspective is that the governor does not support proposals which would infringe on Second Amendment or Article 16 of Vermont’s Constitution.

“If anything, you are talking about the Fourth Amendment and working with folks to be very clear that there is no violation of an individual’s search and seizure rights, basically having property and having it unlawfully taken by the government.”

Kelley said the administration wants to take action that strikes the right balance between rights and safety, adding that it is “important to listen to all voices.”

Since the Feb. 14 Parkland shooting, which killed 17 students, gun rights leaders in Vermont have suggested numerous options for stopping school massacres, including arming schools.

RELATED: Gun rights advocates propose arming Vermont schools

Kelley said the governor is proposing school security grants that could be used for such a purpose.

“The governor has requested that we work to make $5 million available to school security grants, and schools at the local level would be able to identify needs that they have and put forward applications. … So those decisions would really be left up to the schools,” she said.

Kelley commented on a recent close-call in Vermont, in which Jack Sawyer, 18, of Poultney, Vermont, was arrested for allegedly planning a shooting at Fair Haven Union High School. The plan was foiled by Angela McDevitt, a friend of the shooter from New York.

Michael Bielawski/TNR

Eddie Cutler, president of Gun Owners of Vermont, speaking at a pro-gun rally at UVM.

“As the governor has acknowledged, we do have a very good system, but … if it were not for the one woman who came forward in New York and notified folks, then we may not have stopped this,” she said. “So it’s kind of by the grace of God, and a little bit of luck and by her stepping forward is what really prevented this.”

She added, however, that the governor says there needs to be a reassessment of security measures, which includes gun legislation.

Eddie Cutler, president of Gun Owners of Vermont, a pro-gun group with a large statewide membership, said members are disappointed in the governor’s apparent flip-flop on gun control.

“We’re disappointed in Scott … because through all this he never even reached out to talk to us. He just went and did this,” he said, adding that Scott sought and received the group’s endorsement during the 2016 race for governor.

“For him to then act like we don’t exist is insulting to our 5,300-plus membership,” Cutler said. “After what’s happened in the past couple of weeks, a lot of people are going to be voting just on the gun issue.”

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Images courtesy of State of Vermont, Rebecca Kelley and Michael Bielawski/TNR

20 thoughts on “Governor’s office forced to respond to critics of new gun control stance

  1. After every shooting there is an outcry to disarm those citizens who had nothing to do with it! Guns are not the issue. The real issues are: 1) the lack of security at schools, 2) political corruption and, 3) the over-prescription of psychiatric drugs.


    We have armed guards at sporting events, banks, court houses and many similar venues – even a police station permanently within the VT State House. Are children not as precious? There should be effective armed guards protecting schools. More gun restrictions (laws) will not protect us from criminals. Recently, a woman was critically shot about 2:00 am in Burlington. The alleged gunman who fired two shots into the crowd is Rashad Nashid, already a convicted felon who is already prohibited from legally owning a gun. Shooting into a crowd is also illegal. But criminals don’t care about any laws – after all, they’re criminals. There are armed guards for protection of VT politicians, give schools the same protection. And not political functionaries that will hide outside in time of need – see #2.


    A tip, and good work by local VT police, stifled Jack Sawyer’s alleged plans to shoot up Fair Haven Union High School – very different from the February 14, 2018 debacle in Parkland, FL. There at least four of Sheriff Scott Israel’s men hid outside the school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, rather than rushing in to confront the alleged shooter, Nikolas Cruz. In this case, Mr. Cruz was well known to local police and the FBI, the police having been called to his home dozens of times. There were specific tips to both the FBI and the Sheriff. That no action was taken could be judged to be at least incompetence or malfeasance, or worse, deliberate inaction to allow the shooting to happen.

    In the 2011-2012 school years, Broward County Public Schools had the highest number of school-related arrests statewide at 1,062. Newly hired Superintendent Robert Runcie, with strong connections to the Obama administration, teamed up with community organizations like the NAACP, local law enforcement, and government agencies to sign the Collaborative Agreement on School Discipline to eliminate the “schoolhouse to jailhouse pipeline” through programs such as PROMISE (Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Interventions, Support, and Education). PROMISE has the fundamental goal of keeping minority students involved in various “transgressions” away from law enforcement and out of the courts. This likely prevented felony convictions that may have prevented Mr. Cruz from legally buying his guns. Fortunately, Ms. Betsy Devos is considering eliminating Mr. Obama’s “lenient-school” PROMISE policy.

    Even the surveillance footage from the school shooting was shown with a deliberate 20-minute delay, an arrangement set up by the school and the Sheriff to help ensure that felonious student activity could be written off with merely a citation, allowing the school to show improvements in the rate of student criminality and gain more government funding. The entire county sounds corrupt. Sheriff Israel presides over a department that has been investigated by the Broward County State Attorney’s office at least 66 times since 2012 — 40 of them since Israel took office — and is currently being sued by the family of an innocent man shot and killed by deputies to whom Israel later presented awards. . The entire Broward County political leadership should be investigated – but that is beyond VT capability.


    The real reason why mass shootings are taking place, the “inconvenient truth” the media won’t cover, is the wide prescription of psychiatric drugs. Nearly every mass shooting incident in the last twenty years all share one thing in common, and it’s not the weapons used. In all of these incidents the perpetrators were either actively taking powerful psychotropic drugs or had been at some point in the immediate past before they committed their crimes. However, pharmaceutical companies spend far more than any other industry to influence politicians, having poured close to $2.5 billion into lobbying and funding members of Congress over the past decade. This dwarfs the “gun lobby’s” political contributions.

    Prior to the end of the 1980s, mass shootings were relatively unheard of. Prozac, the most well known selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant, was not yet on the market. When Prozac did arrive, it was marketed as a panacea for depression which resulted in huge profits for its manufacturer Eli Lilly. Subsequently, mass shootings and other violent incidents started to be reported. More often than not, the common denominator was that the shooters were on an antidepressant, or withdrawing from one. This is not about an isolated incident or two but numerous shootings. You can do an easy internet search of “SSRI and mass shootings” and find volumes of data.

    There have been too many mass shootings for it just to be a coincidence. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed twelve students and a teacher at Columbine High School. Eric was on Luvox, an antidepressant. The Virginia Tech shooter killed thirty-two people and he was on an antidepressant. While withdrawing from Prozac, Kip Kinkel murdered his mother and stepmother, then shot twenty-two classmates and killed two. Jason Hoffman wounded five at his high school while he was on Effexor, also an antidepressant. James Holmes opened fire in a Colorado movie theater this past summer and killed twelve people and wounded fifty-eight. He was under the care of a psychiatrist but no information has been released as to what drug he must have been on. In a study of thirty-one drugs that are disproportionately linked to reports of violence toward others, five of the top ten are antidepressants. These are Prozac, Paxil, Luvox, Effexor and Pristiq. Two other drugs that are for treating ADHD are also in the top ten which means these are being given to children who could then become violent. One could conclude from this study alone that antidepressants cause both suicidal thoughts and violent behavior. This is a prescription for more mass shootings. Do an internet search for “SSRI and mass murder,” and you will find a litany of SSRI induced murders from many sources.

    Those focusing on further firearms bans or magazine restrictions are clearly focusing on the wrong issue and asking the wrong questions, either as a deliberate attempt to hide these links, as a surrogate of big Pharma, or out of complete and utter ignorance. Guns are not the issue, prescription SSRI drugs are…

      • Good for him at least he will have some income after he’s Booted from office,he won’t have to join the welfare rolls to cost Vermonters even more in taxes.

    • Your intellect and writings, as well as others herein is very refreshing in that there is a conscientious of opinion outside Montpelier. A ray of light in an overcast sky. Hope it spreads more light onto the sheeple in VT, if not totally brained washed by the media & school system (and their ilk). They need to get of their dumb asses and get concerned as demonstrated herein. But that’s what a Socialist Gov accomplishes.

      I save the writings and comments, being public domain and inform friends in other places as to whats going on in VT. They say “why live there, move”. My prob is that I have family land, friends and history. Perhaps dumb. Constantly fighting the Townshend’s Listers, BCA Board (a total farce), State Appraiser and VT Property Tax Dept. All residents have this problem the system is against all, being perpetrated by Montpelier. VT alin’t like it use to be with the influx of Flatlanders.

      Many thanks for the enlightening comments.

  2. I would like to be in full understanding that the governor did not confer with the sportsman of vermont before launching his position pertaining to any proposed firearm legislation changes..????

  3. Every politician out there is into the term COMMON SENSE LAWS. Give me a break. Do you all read each others releases and jump on the term that you can use?
    I’ll tell you what’s common sense. We need to come together and vote out these Liberal/Socialist politicians and I’m fitting our Governor in that group. Stop blaming the gun just to make yourself look better and be politically correct. We need politicians with some balls whether you’re male or female.

  4. Gov Scott, welcome to a bees nest because of your lousy defiant stance against rights of Vt’ers. Do you listen? Can you comprehend? Get the damn Montpelier air out of your nose and see reality.

  5. “The governor is committed to moving forward with common sense reform and at the same time protecting our constitutional ”

    Governments have no “rights”. Only We The People have Rights. Governments have limited powers and authorities. Disarming the general population is not among those powers and authorities. Read the Constitution. Disarming anyone or banning any firearm is simply not in the Constitution. I am surprised that the Governor is unaware of this.

    The US Constitution plainly declares that the right of THE PEOPLE to keep and bear arms shall not be restricted, limited, narrowed, denied, removed, or in any other way infringed. By any one, any government entity, or anything else. It charges the Federal government with preserving that right against all threats. Every state that has joiend the union agreed to those terms, and thus the Governor and any representative   is out of line in their illegal attempt to impose this new infringement on a portion of the population. NONE many infringe.

    I voted for the the Governor once and now I’m done with Benedict Scott,time to primary him and correct my and We The People of Vermont,misplaced trust in him as he is willing to violate his oath to the Constitutions ,state and federal.

  6. How is it that a Pre-Teen can decide if they are Male or Female (Regardless of what they were born with) and the Law will back them 100%.

    How is it that a Female (regardless of age, 10-11-12…etc) can get an abortion, (in essences Kill a Child) without their Parents knowledge or consent and the Law will back them 100%.

    How is it that a 17 year old can go off to war and and be in charge of numerous dangerous weapons and equipment and the law will back them 100%.

    How is it that a 16 year old can operate several tons of machinery on an open road at speeds in excess of 50 MPH and the Law will back them 100%.

    How is it that an 18 year old is responsible enough to cast a vote to decide the fate of a City, State, Country and the Law will back them 100%, (as it should be).

    YET… The Law says an 18 year old is NOT responsible enough to buy certain firearms all though Our Constitution, Both State and Federal states this RIGHT Shall Not Be Infringed?

    It seems like Our Gov is doing nothing more then appeasing the out-of-staters and not the people of our state.

  7. Other candidates warned us that Scott was soft on gun rights and not really the conservative he pretended to be.
    We didn’t look close enough. Hell Vermonters haven’t looked close enough for decades.
    Remember Howard Dean. He damaged VT more than many realize. Why? Because voters didn’t look close enough at the Lt Governor candidate.
    Unless you get evolved, the next election may bury conservatives in VT.

  8. “The governor is committed to moving forward with common sense reform and at the same time protecting our constitutional ”………… Well, that means the only gun legislation he will be signing
    is Bills S.221 as written & passed !!

    Not the other bastardized bills ( S.6,S.55,H.422 ) all being pushed by an agenda on the Left.
    When will liberals understand Mental Illness is the problem , Fix it !!

    They can’t , so they won’t !!

    • 2016 is the latest year for which FBI statistics are available for crime in the U.S. Murders are tabulated by type of weapon for 2016 nationally as follows:

      Rifles 374
      Knives or cutting instruments 1604
      Hands, fists, feer#1 656

      This clearly shows that rifles are not the problem, knives and cutting instruments are the real issue. We need to rid knives, and perhaps hands, fists and feet, from all households in Vermont

      Those focusing on further firearm bans or magazine restrictions are clearly focusing on the wrong issue and asking the wrong questions. This makes as much sense…

  9. I was amazed and saddened that our rino governor so quickly joined the anti-gunners. A few years ago, I voted for someone whom I thought would defend the 2A and article 16 of the Vermont constitution. But I guess I was wrong.
    The liberal flatlanders that have infiltrated our state with their liberal ‘kumbaya’ ideas have driven out any sense that was left. Next time I step out of my door and a bear is knocking over my garbage pail will be pleased to know that I don’t have a gun. Perhaps we could start a nice conversation. Or the guy that broke into and ransacked the house will be happy to know too.
    Maybe we should run the Bern next time. At least he’s an honest crook.

  10. Gov.scott, before your election into office I had a lengthy conversation with you standing by your bike at the fair grounds. By that conversation I assured you my vote because of your opinion on gun control and the second amendment. Unfortunately because of your opinion change you have lost not only my vote, but several other people I know!!!!!

  11. You will note every time the words “common sense” are used by a politician in reference to our constitutional rights, it means “in direct violation of”.
    About 30 times as many children are killed on bicycles and a thousand times as many kids are killed in automobile accidents as are killed in school shootings. Where is the outrage. It isn’t about “child safety”, it’s about disarming Americans and setting a legal precedent so the government can sieze private property legally.

    • Bingo – doctors kill over a 100,000 people a year with their mistakes. Another 100,000 are killed taking prescription medicines and not a peep about that. As an American you are 8X as likely to be killed by a cop than in a terrorist act

  12. Message from Marty Daniel:


    First and foremost, let me say that I have heard your voices. I put out a statement on Friday, supporting Senate Bill S.2135 also known as the Fix NICS Act. I have received overwhelming feedback since putting out this statement, which has brought to my attention that there are significant and justified concerns regarding this bill. I can no longer in good conscience put my support behind S.2135.

    I released the original statement because I believed it was the best option available at this time to hold back the continued attacks on the Second Amendment and the erosion of our rights. I was wrong.

    Let me be very clear:

    • My life’s work is to protect an individual’s right to keep and bear arms by holding our lawmakers accountable to the Second Amendment.

    • I believe that all firearms laws that limit the rights of law abiding citizens are unconstitutional.

    • I will never support any legislation which infringes on any individuals rights, and could potentially subvert due process.

    • Myself, my Family, and Daniel Defense love and serve our Veterans every day. I would never support a legislative measure which would strip them of their rights based on their history of service and sacrifice.

    Thank you to everyone who reached out and voiced your concerns. You are a motivated and passionate group of people which I am proud to call my peers, my friends, and my family. We are all united in one fight – the fight to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. I will never turn my back on you. I stand with you and I am ready to continue to fight for our rights.


    • @ Justin Farrar

      This isn’t the first instance of Marty Daniel making statements antithetical to the Second Amendment,anyone accepting that change of heart/thought of a retraction is a fool.
      He has showed where he stands by printing that garbage. Now all of the sudden he has had some famous awakening. That does not change overnight. What he did, is read all the comments on DD Facebook page.
      Glad I’m not in the market for a product the DD produces because if I was this whole affair that Marty Daniels published would have me looking elsewhere.

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