January 30, 2016

Burlington Pushes To Protect Its People

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Montpelier (Jan. 28) Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger invoked Newtown, Connecticut and the recent shooting on Burlington’s beloved Church St. last December in another appeal to Vermont legislators to allow Burlington to respond to what it views as a public safety issue.


The legislation in question is a series of amendments to Burlington’s city charter aiming to minimize the risk of gun violence in the city by banning guns in bars, allowing police to confiscate guns from suspected domestic abusers, and requiring that guns be locked away when not within arms reach of the owner.


Proposed Acts 566, 567, and 568 were approved by Burlington voters in March 2014, but cannot be made official by the city government because doing so contradicts Vermont Statue, Section 2291(8), which prohibits the regulation of firearms by municipalities.


Weinberger sees this prohibition as hindering Burlingtonian’s ability to protect themselves from the threat of gun violence. “State law and the legislatively approved Burlington charter generally delegate responsibility for public safety matters to municipal government,” said Weinberger, “In the absence of active state efforts to address the issues, from my perspective, it is no longer appropriate to block local action on this public safety matters of life and death.”


Burlington Chief of Police, Brandon Del Pozo, weighed in on the amendments as well. He addressed and outlined each amendment’s implications for improved safety, respectively.


The opposition, comprised mostly of gun-rights advocates, presented arguments and  classic 2nd Amendment ideology. They said that people have the right to defend themselves with guns, cited cases where people have, in fact, defended themselves with a gun, said that inconsistent gun laws between municipalities would confuse people, and offered some slippery slope rhetoric.


The proponents insisted that amendments they were trying to pass are not designed to impinge on the rights of Vermonters to carry (except in establishments serving alcohol), hunt or otherwise use guns recreationally. Rather, they reflect an emphasis on safety, and the public’s support of it.

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