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Letter: Importance of the First Amendment

To the Editor:

While your reporter in large part accurately quoted my words at the Strafford Town Meeting, the article painted an inaccurate picture of the most important point I made and also of my position regarding guns in American life.

Yes, I am a retired Air Force officer, I was a hunter in my youth and I do now abhor the way the National Rifle Association has become a very significant part of the problem by having become a key actor in the nexus of politics-industrial-business-lobbying rather than what I recall it to have been when I was a Boy Scout.

Nevertheless, I sought to stake out a moderate position between the right and left in the amendment I proposed to Article 6. Section 3 of that article was amended to read: “Enforce gun trafficking as a federal crime with enhanced penalties for ‘straw purchasers,’ ” referring to those who arm criminals. Immediately thereafter, I approached another military veteran who spoke clearly and passionately in support of gun ownership, accepting his invitation to begin a discussion about, among other things, how Vermont can find a “Swiss solution” to the matter of military-style weapons. We shall begin that conversation soon as local residents and citizens of the nation we both served in uniform.

I pointed out that the First Amendment precedes — and I believe is morally more important than — the Second, such that speech, conversation and dialogue are the only way to proceed. While I do hope that we will stop worshipping guns — along with fear and violence — in our nation, I know that we cannot approach that shift in consciousness and return the gun to a rational place in society absent pursuing dialogue with one another. In brief, what your reporter quoted tends to portray me as on one particular side of the debate; I beg here to differ.

The Rev. R. Byron Breese

Strafford

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Towns Back Gun Control: Firearm Article Spurs Passionate Debates 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Strafford — An eager volunteer rushed around Strafford’s Town House yesterday to hand a microphone to voters wishing to speak from their seats, but Curt Albee had no use for her. An hour into Town Meeting, Albee rose from his seat, walked to the standing microphone at the center of the room, and, with 200 neighbors staring at him, held …