Long Road Ahead of Burlington Charter Changes

By Steph Machado

Published 03/05 2014 06:47PM

Updated 03/05 2014 08:35PM

BURLINGTON - The fight isn't over. Even though Burlington voters approved gun-related changes to the city's charter, they are far from becoming law. The State Legislature has to approve any charter-change request.

Marie Adams is the Chittenden County organizer with GunSense VT. She spent her day-after-town-meeting picking up campaign signs. The grassroots organizations helped pass the three measures.

"We were happy, we were very happy," said Adams.

The three measures that passed Tuesday would allow police to take weapons during a domestic incident, ban guns where alcohol is served, and require guns to be locked up when stored.

Evan Hughes is the Vice President of the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen Clubs says his group will continue its fight at the Statehouse, supporting the Vermont Sportsmen's Bill of Rights.

"That law was enacted in 1988," Hughes said. "It provides for a uniform standard throughout the state and we're quite content with that law."

If the charter changes are approved, it would be the first time the 1865 city charter mentions guns.

"It would create a conflicting and confusing patchwork of ordinances around the state," said Hughes.

The charter changes will first head to the Attorney General and Secretary of State to verify all procedures were followed. Then the House will have to debate and pass them, as will the Senate, and finally Governor Shumlin will have to sign them.

State Rep. Donna Sweaney (D-Windsor) chairs House Government Operations, the committee that will first take up the charter changes.

"One of the big questions is if this goes forward, if it's approved and Burlington has their own set of rules and laws around guns in the town, how does that affect the rest of the state?" Rep. Sweaney said on the phone.

Marie Adams hopes lawmakers will take the wide margins by which the measures passed into account.

"It's a loud message to them. And they have to read it and interpret it and hopefully they will interpret it that people want common sense legislation," she said.

The legislature sees about 15-30 charter changes each year, but Rep. Sweaney says she hasn't seen one as big or controversial as this one.There is likely a long road ahead of these measures to get approval.

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