Vermont lawmakers hear testimony on proposed gun laws

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Activists took to Vermont’s Statehouse Tuesday evening for a public hearing on gun laws.

With gun rights activists were heavily represented, orange filled the house chamber for the hearing.

“Gun control is not about controlling guns, gun control is about controlling people,” said Archie Flower, Middlebury, Vt.

The Senate Committee on Judiciary currently is considering legislation concerning guns, to include stricter background checks and a measure that would remove firearms from a place where domestic violence occurs.

“It’s not a permanent removal, it’s not a punishment, it’s about saving the lives of countless women, children and men,” said Matthew Bouchard, Community Health Services of Lamoille Valley.

Activists for stricter gun laws shared personal stories on how gun violence has impacted them, including Joy Gaine of Thetford. Gaine’s niece Carol was shot and killed in 2008 on her 20th birthday.

“We’ve had enough thoughts and prayers in the country including, if we are truly outraged insist we have a serious discussion about this public health and public safety crisis and not hide behind Vermont is a safe state blanket,” pleaded Gaine.

However, those on the other side say these acts of violence don’t represent the majority of gun owners in Vermont.

“If a person is truly dangerous they should be locked up, no excuses because whether they guns, whether they have clubs, whether they have cars they will do bad to their spouses,” said Ed Cutler, Gun Owners Vermont President.

‘Don’t New York My Vermont Gun Rights’ was the theme for gun activists, who say Vermont laws work and have worked for years.

“I moved here because of the Vermont way, the Vermont way is integrity, honor and common sense… It’s going by the wayside and it’s sad to see,” said Mark Wells of Bethel, Vt.

Governor Phil Scott has previously said, “I don’t believe our gun laws should change here in Vermont but obviously there is some pressure on the national level to do so.”

The committee will take the testimony as it continues to review proposed legislation.

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