by Jeffrey Kaufman, M.D.
Burlington Voters, here’s a serious question for you.
What action should you take when confronted with a State law you disagree with?
A. Work to change the law
B. Ignore the law and act as if it doesn’t exist
C. Ignore the law, act as if it doesn’t exist AND induce others to ignore the law and act as if it does not exist.
The answer should be obvious.
You might be surprised, then, to learn the Burlington City Council’s answer when they found themselves facing this question. The Council objected to Vermont State Law
24 V.S.A. § 2295. “Authority of municipal and county governments to regulate firearms, ammunition, hunting, fishing and trapping”, commonly known as the Sportsman’s Bill of Rights.
The Vermont Sportsman’s Bill of Rights says “Except as otherwise provided by law, no town, city or incorporated village, by ordinance, resolution or other enactment, shall directly regulate hunting, fishing and trapping or the possession, ownership, transportation, transfer, sale, purchase, carrying, licensing or registration of traps, firearms, ammunition or components of firearms or ammunition.”
Thanks go to John McClaughry for researching and pointing out the following: that the underlying principles guiding this law originate from Vermont’s own State Constitution Chapter 1, Article 16, which proclaims “that the people have a right to bear arms for the defence [sic] of themselves and the state…” This basic right stood unmolested for over 120 years until the Rutland City Council advanced an ordinance which narrowed this right within their city limits. The Vermont Supreme Court responded vehemently saying “the carrying of firearms for one’s defense is a fundamental right of a citizen. The ordinance is repugnant to the Constitution.” (State v Rosenthal, 1903). This set the record straight in Vermont for another 80 years until some municipalities again thought they’d shrug off our State’s Constitutional restraints and sought to establish their own gun control laws. To definitively settle the issue, the Vermont legislature passed the Sportsman’s Bill of Rights in 1988. In John’s words “This act was approved by the Senate on a voice vote, and by the House on a 128-5 roll call. Gov. Kunin signed it into law, and Howard Dean, then Lt. Governor, later made the unlikely boast that
“I got it passed.”” Given the history of Vermont law on the subject, one finds it inconceivable that the Council would now disregard State law.
Propriety and good sense would expect such a Council, having expressed their feelings and opposition on the matter, to seek to overturn the Sportsman’s Bill of Rights. As social activists, they might even garner support to amend the Vermont State Constitution. Instead, by proposing three firearm charter changes, the Council denies inalienable human rights; ignores well established law, acting as if it doesn’t exist, and then subjects all of the people of Burlington and the State of Vermont to become lawless co-conspirators as they incorporate us into their ruse. The unintended consequence of the Council’s wrongheaded charter change proposals, if passed, would be that people might do what they learned from their Councilors.
What lesson does the Council’s action teach?
“Choose C” – “Ignore the new laws, act as if they don’t exist AND induce others to ignore the laws and act as if they do not exist.
Here’s the solution.
To avoid the consequences of the Council’s decision to put blatantly illegal (IMO) legislation on their ballots in March, Burlington voters should end the madness by VOTING AGAINST ALL THREE firearm charter change proposals!