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Letter: Where Vermont Stands on Background Checks

To the Editor:

In Montpelier last week, Gun Sense Vermont introduced its agenda for the 2015 Vermont legislative session with some extraordinary polling numbers. Gun Sense Vermont President Ann Braden launched a campaign to pass a bill in the next session to require criminal background checks for all gun sales. “Criminal background checks on all firearms sales is the most effective way to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people,” Braden said.

Gun Sense Vermont and its lobbying firm unveiled results of a Vermont poll at a May 6 Montpelier news conference that included Vermont gun owners. The poll by political consulting group Lincoln Park Strategies, taken between April 22 and April 24, indicated that 81 percent of 600 Vermont respondents strongly or moderately support requiring all gun buyers to pass a criminal background check. Current law allows private gun sales and gun show sales to go forward without background checks. The poll indicated 77 percent of gun owners support criminal background checks.

Vermont has among the most lenient gun laws in the country. Citizens can, for example, carry and conceal a firearm anywhere they want with just three exceptions: inside court buildings, the Statehouse and schools. In most other states, conceal and carry is illegal or regulated.

In 2013, warrant articles supporting universal background checks passed overwhelmingly in the Upper Valley towns of Woodstock, Norwich, Strafford, Bradford and Hartland. This year, Burlington voters approved measures on Town Meeting Day that would ban guns from any establishment with a liquor license, allow police to seize guns after domestic abuse incidents and require firearms to be locked at all times. Burlington voters passed the changes by a 2 to 1 margin, despite heavy push-back from pro-gun groups.

It’s time the rest of Vermont started letting their legislative representatives know where they stand on universal background checks.

Paul Regan

Gun Sense Member

South Woodstock