A recent Seven Days article speculates that gun control may finally have a chance in Vermont:
But those pro-gun people may now be outnumbered as the state’s population — and its politics — changes. An articulate defender of the pro-gun position, Wilson regards the Waite-Simpson bill as a serious threat and an illustration of a multifaceted culture clash in Vermont. “I haven’t had to worry about it with guns,” he adds, “until now.”
Greshin agrees that the gun-control debate reflects a divergence of values as the state’s population becomes more metropolitan and diverse. “Vermont is no longer the rural state that everyone thinks it is,” Gershin observes, pointing out that about one-third of the population lives in Chittenden County.
The old Vermont of hunters and target-shooters may be slowly vanishing. According to the Department of Fish & Wildlife, Vermont issued 91,039 hunting licenses to state residents in 1987 — about 25,000 more than were issued in 2011.
Councilor Blais speculates that supporters of gun control now constitute “a silent majority” in the state, suggesting that the Vermont wing of the NRA “is something of a paper tiger.” But Blais says he’s puzzled by the absence of an organized gun-control movement. In other left-leaning states, high-profile liberal politicians have led that charge.
Here in Vermont, Gov. Peter Shumlin is a gun-toting hunter who recently announced he prefers Budweiser to “Gucci” brews. The state’s congressional delegation has historically ducked gun issues for fear of alienating sportsmen. But just last week, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) convened a high-profile hearing on gun-control legislation in the Senate Judiciary Committee he chairs.
While he doesn’t support President Obama’s call for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, Leahy is sticking his neck out farther than ever before, sponsoring a bill to punish “straw purchasing” — when someone buys a gun for someone who is prohibited from acquiring one himself — and to crack down on gun trafficking.
Back in Montpelier, pro-gun-control lawmakers are demonstrating the savvy they will need to get their bills passed. Uniformed police officials stood shoulder-to-shoulder with eight House lawmakers at last week’s press conference. Afterward, Waite-Simpson organized a firearm show-and-tell, during which Capitol Police Chief Les Dimick laid out seven unloaded rifles from his personal collection, including a semi automatic Colt AR-15.
The real question here is not whether Vermont is becoming less rural and more urban, but whether Vermonters are becoming more willing to let government officials take control of their lives. Some of us, who do not even own guns, are interested in the debate because of the unstated premise behind one of the central arguments for gun control. That argument takes the form of a question as to whether gun owners really need to own certain types of firearms. The real question is who gets to decide what one needs. Given the fact that their really is no evidence that gun control reduces violent crime, I world prefer that the individual gun owner make his or he own decision as to what type of guns he or she needs. Do we really want government bureaucrats telling us what we need? Where do we stop? I have heard people ask the question of how much money is enough when it comes to taxing people with higher income. Are we going to define an upper limit on what people need as far as income and confiscate everything above that limit? Obesity is one of our most pressing health problems. Are we going to define what people need to eat and how much? The list of supposed needs is endless and so is the potential for government to meddle in our lives. I would like to suggest that the burden of proof should be on the government when it comes to proposing a policy that allows them to take on a role beyond protecting our rights.