BURLINGTON, VT. — The Vermont chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, issued the following statements in response to a shooting in which three Palestinian students were shot and wounded. According to reports, two of the victims were wearing Palestinian keffiyehs while walking near the University of Vermont when a white man armed with a handgun shot them. The suspect was arrested late Sunday night. According to authorities, the investigation is ongoing and being investigated as a potential hate crime.
“During a weekend meant for reuniting with loved ones, another community is grappling with the aftermath of a tragic and hateful act of gun violence,” said Nancy Harkins, a volunteer with the Vermont chapter of Moms Demand Action. “As we await more details, it’s important we come together to disarm and condemn all forms of hate. We all deserve to live and thrive in a community free of gun violence. We must do more to keep guns out of the wrong hands, disarm hate, and protect every community from the recent rise in Islamophobia, antisemitism and all other forms of bigotry.”
“We live in a country where longstanding racism and a ‘guns everywhere’ culture results in an environment where people are targeted and shot because of their identity,” said Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of Moms Demand Action. “What should have been a peaceful holiday weekend is now marred by the dangerous combination of hate and access to firearms. My heart is with the family and friends of the victims, and the Palestinian communities across the country who are undoubtedly feeling the impact of this shooting. With Islamophobia and other types of hate-fueled violence on the rise, we must collectively condemn any form of hate we may encounter in our own daily lives.”
“Going to visit your family during the holidays shouldn’t be a death sentence, but far too often in America, it is. Our hearts are broken for the three Palestinian students who were shot, their loved ones, and those in our community who’ve been impacted by this tragedy,” said Maddie Leroux, a volunteer leader with the University of Vermont Students Demand Action chapter. “Violence that targets people because of their faith or beliefs must always be condemned and there must be a full investigation. Palestinian students shouldn’t have to live in fear of gun violence. No student should have to live in fear of gun violence. Now, more than ever, we must stand united in disarming hate.”
Hate-motivated acts of gun violence not only cause physical harm, they traumatize survivors of previous attacks and other members of targeted communities. These tragic and deadly incidents are painful reminders that easy access to firearms, coupled with hate and intolerance, can often become deadly.
In a recent report, The Council on American-Islamic Relations said that it received 774 requests for help and reports of bias incidents from Muslims across the U.S. from Oct. 7 to Oct. 24, a 182% jump from any given 16-day stretch last year. During a 16-day period in 2022, it received an average of 274 complaints.
In an average year, over 25,000 hate crimes in the US involve a firearm—69 a day. Under federal law, a violent hate crime misdemeanor does not prohibit a person from buying a gun, but some states have enacted laws to make sure that people with hate crime convictions can’t get guns.
In an average year, 77 people die by guns. With a rate of 11.4 deaths per 100,000 people, Vermont has the 38th-highest rate of gun deaths in the US. More information about gun violence in Vermont is available here.