In light of the Vermont AFL-CIO’s resolution opposing gun safety measures in the state, and the backlash to that decision, here are some suggestions on how to cover gun safety.
- Focus on the significant strides made in recent years to combat gun violence on the state level.
In 2018, the Vermont legislature made a historic effort to promote gun safety by passing six gun violence prevention bills, including legislation that allowed state courts to issue extreme risk protection orders (ERPO), prohibited high-capacity magazines and bump stocks, raised the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21, empowered law enforcement to disarm domestic abusers, and required background checks on all firearm sales. A year later, the legislature also passed a bill that would have required a waiting period following the purchase of a gun; however, that bill was vetoed by Governor Phil Scott. All of these bills are necessary, common sense policies that help reduce gun violence across the state and keep Vermonters safe.
- Talk about the importance of secure firearm storage in keeping communities, especially children and teens, safe.
Secure firearm storage is a crucial element of gun safety, particularly for Vermont families. Reducing young people’s access to dangerous weapons by ensuring that household guns are securely stored away prevents child suicides and unintentional shootings and keeps guns out of schools. Guns are the leading cause of death among children and teens in the United States, and as students return to in-person learning this fall, it is important that the risk of gun violence in schools is mitigated by these life-saving practices.
Earlier this year, the Champlain Valley School District sent letters home to students’ parents advising them about the important role that secure storage plays in keeping their children safe. Over 1.5 million students, including those in Champlain Valley School District, currently live in a school district that requires notifying parents about secure storage.
- Emphasize that there is still work to be done to end gun violence in Vermont.
Despite the transformative steps Vermont has taken on the state and local level to combat gun violence, there is still more work to be done to ensure the safety of Vermont communities:
- Vermont is now the only state in New England that does not require gun owners to secure their guns away from the access of children. Lawmakers should act to change that and keep children and schools safe from gun violence.
- Loved ones are often best equipped to recognize when someone poses a danger to themselves or others. Vermont should join nearby states in expanding their life-saving extreme risk law to empower those individuals to intervene in moments of crisis.
- Vermont lawmakers should pass legislation to close the Charleston Loophole, which allows gun sales in Vermont to slip through without a completed background check if they take longer than three business days — a pitfall that has been exacerbated by the spike in gun sales during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Half of all homicides in Vermont are domestic violence-related, and half of those homicides are committed with a gun. State lawmakers should take action on legislation that would further protect victims of domestic violence by allowing judges to order domestic abusers to relinquish their guns as part of an emergency Relief from Abuse order.
- As armed extremism continues to grow and threaten democracy in Vermont and across the country, elected officials in Vermont should confront the open carry loophole and other lax laws that enable firearms to be carried openly in certain public spaces.
If you would like to speak with a member of the Vermont chapter of Moms Demand Action or Students Demand Action, please don’t hesitate to reach out.