Forum, April 7: Vermont’s Gun Bills Conceived in Lies

Friday, April 06, 2018
Vt. Gun Bills Conceived in Lies

I have a question for state Rep. Jim Masland, D-Thetford Center, and any other legislator who voted in favor of Vermont’s recently passed firearms legislation: Do you believe that a bill conceived in blatant lies is good legislation? If so, why? If not, why did you vote for it?

Here are just a few of the lies I am aware of:

Lie No. 1: The legislation is about school safety. In reality, it is a wish list that the left has been dreaming about for many years. There is nothing to improve safety in or out of schools.

Lie No. 2: State Sen. Phil Baruth, D-Chittenden, has claimed anyone can go to a gun show and buy an AK-47 without a background check. In fact, you would find it nearly impossible to buy an AK-47 anywhere in Vermont, and you absolutely cannot buy a firearm at a gun show in Vermont without going through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System because Vermont gun show operators allow only vendors who hold a Federal Firearms License. I invite anyone to prove me wrong — not with imaginary scenarios, but by doing so.

Lie No. 3: In an email to me from Sen. Alison Clarkson, D-Woodstock: “90 percent of gun owners favor universal background checks.” If that were true, I could find at least one among the hundreds of gun owners I know.

The problems with the legislation are too many to list here, but Masland has made it quite clear that compliance with a liberal agenda is more important than truth.

A final question for any legislator: Why do you not acknowledge that the system already in place worked perfectly to stop what police have said was a planned shooting at Fair Haven Union High School? Is that how you make policy: “Wow, the system worked. We had better make life more difficult for decent citizens”?

Ernie Amsden


A Constitutional Crisis Indeed

If we ever manage to restore responsible government in the United States (and it isn’t clear that we can), there is one change that would seem to be imperative in the way executive functions are carried out: namely, power and authority must be more widely and stably dispersed.

We are in a situation now where very nearly every federal agency or responsibility is nominally in the control of someone whose job tenure rests with a president whose preferred mode of governing seems to be limited to firing incumbents and replacing them with people who are inexperienced, ideologically driven or both. Virtually none of these replacements turn out to be recognizable as obviously qualified for their jobs.

I guess many people, including myself, weren’t paying attention to the fact that the ways our laws have been written permitted the possibility of an accumulation of power in the hands of a rogue executive with no feasible way of removing him. We told ourselves that the “separation of powers” would provide a balance among the branches of government that would be proof against arbitrary and destructive regimes, but it turns out not to be true. Both houses of Congress now seem to be intimidated, and it would be a big surprise if the Supreme Court turned out to be much of a help. Talk of a “constitutional crisis” had seemed to be melodramatic, but increasingly that term seems to fit the facts. Remediation will be difficult but essential.

David Montgomery


Warning About Obituary Scams

Sadly, some time ago, I stopped reading Rolling Stone and started reading the AARP magazine more interested in how I was going to be scammed at my age rather than if Yoko Ono broke up The Beatles. Again, sadly, I’ve taken to reading the obituaries to see if any of my friends have decided to check out. I am continually amazed at the amount of information families are willing to share with scammers and thieves.

While I understand the need to share in celebrating the life of a loved one, one recent obituary had every bit of information that a professional scammer or thief needed to hack their bank account, Social Security files and tax refund files. And at the very end, a listing of a memorial service that was starting at 3 p.m. followed by a reception someplace else. In other words, “We will be out of the house for roughly 3-4 hours.”

My friend is a private investigator and, after checking my facts with him, he said with the amount of information that was provided in this obituary, he would be able to find out this person’s Social Security number and get into just about any system that pertained to him and his family. I recommend searching the internet or your local library on articles pertaining to obituary scams. Please be safe!

G. Allen Albrecht


Holcombe Missed Leadership Chance

I hope Vermont’s new education secretary will be more attuned to the needs of courageous and involved students (“Vermont Education Secretary Holcombe to Step Down on April 1,” March 28). My generation often laments that students no longer seem to be idealistic or care about civic matters. Yet, when students in Vermont expressed concern about the safety of their schools and a desire to take action to change that, Holcombe made a proclamation antithetical to the involvement of Vermont students in a cause greater than themselves, which is just what we want them to demonstrate.

Rather than encouraging idealism and civic involvement and supporting their energy and interest in the public good, Holcombe’s statements threatened “consequences” for students who would participate in a school walkout to protest the failure of political leaders to take action to make schools safer.

If Holcombe did not want to demonstrate leadership, she could simply have stayed out of the students’ way. However, she urged them to remain in school and not “interfere with the normal educational process,” thereby missing an opportunity to encourage students to act as the spirited and involved citizens we parents and grandparents want them to grow up to be.

Students in Vermont and across the country did walk out, did protest and did gather 800,000 strong in Washington, potentially affecting public policy more in less than two months than my generation has been able to do in 25 years. These students plan to continue to make history, armed with the hallmarks of youth: courage, idealism, determination and limitless energy.

Regardless of one’s position on the issues, we must admire the actions of these students. We adults can support and assist them if we agree with them, and all adults can be proud of them.

Steven Librot


Call to Stop Newsprint Tariffs

Your March 31 editorial (“Tariffs Hit Home: Newsprint Duties Will Hurt Newspapers”) reports on a major economic threat to the quality of the Valley News and other papers because of the duties on Canadian newsprint imposed by the Commerce Department.

Readers of the Valley News should be concerned by this development and should call on Rep. Annie Kuster and Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan to work for repeal of these duties.

But beyond that, taking a larger vision of the threat, the loss of information and informed political opinion, whether from beyond the Upper Valley (sources like The Washington Post) or from local reporters, columnists or letter writers, will also erode our democracy.

It’s worth recalling Thomas Jefferson’s celebrated affirmation of the value of newspapers: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” Citizens and legislators alike should make ourselves heard on this issue.

Bob Schultz


Headline Was Par for the Course

When I turned unsuspectingly to Page D4 of the Sports section of the April 1 Sunday Valley News and saw the story about The Masters golf tournament I laughed so hard that I almost spit out my coffee.

“Coughing Up a Fir Ball: Augusta’s 14th Hole Offers No Sand but Plenty of Adventure.” What a wonderful headline for April Fool’s Day.

Margo Howland-Mastro

White River Junction