Letter: Enact Sensible Gun Legislation

To the Editor:

Recently, there appeared a letter in the Valley News bemoaning the fact that someone had written a letter supporting the enactment of gun safety legislation for Vermont. The author recited what is the mantra of the National Rifle Association: “I have the constitutional right to have a gun,” adding “we haven’t had any mass killings in Vermont.” He ended with, “Can’t you just leave us gun owners alone?”

Yes, every citizen has the constitutional right to own a firearm. But the U.S. Supreme Court has also clearly stated that legislative bodies have the right to regulate those firearms. There is clearly a distinction between regulation and confiscation. Those who support gun-safety legislation are not seeking to take away an individual’s right to own a gun. Law-abiding citizens do not need to be concerned with legislation to keep guns out of the hands of irresponsible and dangerous individuals. To use the excuse that nothing needs to be done proactively in Vermont because there have been no mass killings is shortsighted. Vermonters are not morally superior to the residents of Connecticut, Colorado, Virginia or Washington, D.C. Just as with legislation that deals with automotive safety, we can’t eliminate all traffic deaths, but we certainly have reduced the number of deaths on our highways. The same needs to be done to safeguard Vermonters from gun violence.

We need common-sense legislation, such as mandatory gun-safety courses; safe storage laws to reduce the incidence of teenage suicides and accidental injuries to children; universal and better coordination of background checks for those seeking to purchase a firearm. On March 4, the voters of Burlington passed three resolutions: no guns in bars; safe storage; and enabling police to confiscate firearms if called to investigate a case of domestic violence. They now need to be approved by the state Legislature. Contact your state legislators and the governor, encouraging them to enact sensible gun-safety legislation.

Paul Manganiello