Baruth gun carry ban won’t stop crime, defender general says

By Guy Page

A bill sponsored by Sen. Philip Baruth, D-Chittenden, to prohibit carrying guns in some public places won’t prevent gun violence, is already covered by other laws, and could end up harming the people it’s meant to protect, Vermont Public Defender General Matthew Valerio told a Senate committee.

S.30 would prohibit the possession of firearms at childcare facilities, hospitals and certain public buildings. It’s co-sponsored by 15 senators — enough to secure passage if they all vote for it. Co-sponsors are Sens. Balint, Bray, Campion, Chittenden, Clarkson, Cummings, Hardy, Hooker, Lyons, McCormack, Pearson, Perchlik, Ram, Sirotkin and White. All are Democrats and/or Progressives.

Baruth opened a Wednesday, Jan. 20 hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee by explaining why he proposed S.30: the “unprecedented” threat posed by gun-toting Americans upset by political opponents and mask-wearing policies.

Vermont Public Defender General Matthew Valerio addresses the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Last year, intimidating citizens brought firearms into state houses, Baruth said. “The pandemic intensified that. Anti mask protests began to merge with armed groups. People in daily life who ask others to wear a mask are being routinely assaulted and threatened. … We’re in an unprecedented time.”

“As everyone knows, incidents have increased in number to the point where several days ago every state capital in the nation was on a form of lockdown because of threats of armed revolt, insurrection, protest — we’re in a state where no-one really knows what to call it,” Baruth said.

S.30 proposes “just the absolute minimum on what everyone could agree on,” Baruth said. “If you would ask the average Vermonter they would say these are resoundingly common sense ideas.”

State law already prohibits carrying guns in schools (1989 law) and courthouses (1993), Legislative Council lawyer Erik Fitzpatrick told the committee. A legislative rule prohibits carrying guns in the State House. But it lacks the force of law. Capitol police could ask a gun carryer to leave, perhaps cite them with trespass or breach of peace. But no gun carrying laws cover the State House – or other government buildings, childcare facilities, or hospitals.

“Isn’t that odd that some public officials are protected by statute and others are not?” asked State Auditor Doug Hoffer. “I think it’s a good idea, a good bill.”

A string of other state officials testified in support of S.30, most of them also offering re-election congratulations to other elected officials on the call.

Attorney General TJ Donovan — “I support this bill. This a common-sense appoach, a reasonable solution. People have a right to feel safe and not worry about guns. Intimidation is real.” Last week a constituent told Donovan about an “argument about a mask and someone lifted up a jacket or a coat and showed a gun. This is real.”

Sen. Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, pushed back on the ‘intimidation’ concern. “If we are passing this bill because people are intimidated, we are opening up a unending list of places where intimidation alone brings in similar statutory moves,” Benning said. The bill seeks to prevent violence. “I don’t want to get on the slippery slope because someone is intimidated by the presence of a weapon.”

Treasurer Beth Pearce supports it too. She worries about potential threats to her workers from stressed-out retirees. “Sometimes you have some stress, as people are looking at retirement …  It can get a little tense there.” People have contemplated suicide on the phone. A visitor (non-threatening) did walk into their office carrying a gun, she said.

Secretary of State Jim Condos — “I support the bill. We’ve had several incidents over the last few years due to threats…. We had quite a few after the election.”

Ditto, said John Campbell, executive director of the Vermont State’s Attorneys and Sheriff’s Association. “We wholeheartedly support the bill,” the former police officer and Senate Pro Tem said. Several deputy State’s Attorneys have been physically threatened. “Recently there has been no shortage of threats.”

And then it was Vermont Defender General Matt Valerio’s turn. He first noted there are 393 civilian-owned firearms in the United States, enough for every man, woman and child with about 60 million to spare. While not taking a position on the bill, he said S.30 offers iffy answers to all four questions he routinely asks about every new crime bill.

Does it violate the U.S. or Vermont constitutions? Probably not, he says — but the Senate should tread carefully.

“Obviously there are Second Amendment issues that arise, but I don’t see them as an impediment to making this sort of limitation to those rights,” because the Constitution doesn’t give ‘carte blanche’ to all gun activities. Yet he added — “I do have a concern for the erosion of constitutional rights. I don’t think you can pick and choose that you like the First Amendment better than the Second Amendment.”

Do current laws address the problem? Valerio says 13VSA 4003 “carrying a dangerous weapon with intent to injure another”carries a sentence of up to 10 years. “It’s not the carrying of the firearm that’s the problem, it’s the intent of the person carrying the firearm that’s the problem.” Reckless endangerment statutes also cover the danger as presented by S.30’s supporters.

Will the new law solve the problem? Probably not. “The person who wants to use the firearm in a daycare or hospital is not being deterred by the law,” Valerio said. “If you’re not deterred by a life in prison, you’re not going to be deterred by carrying a weapon. There’s no evidence that they do deter the conduct thought to be prohibited.” As a member of Gov. Scott’s recent task force on violence protection, “it became clear that more criminal laws and protections were not going to increase safety,” he said. Prevention and training works better.

Could the new law harm those it’s meant to protect? He said the bill may create a situation in which “the only people who can’t respond … are the people working there because they don’t have the ability to defend themselves.”

Valerio suggested turning the bill into a civil violation (similar to a traffic ticket) rather than a crime. That way police would have the authorization to escort someone from the premises. But Baruth made it clear he wouldn’t accept such a downgrade.

Finally, Executive Director Chris Bradley of the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs was allowed to testify in the closing minutes of the hearing. “Vermont is the second safest state in the nation,” next to Maine, Bradley said. “Our laws stand in contrast with New York and Massachusetts, where we see double the crime rate of Vermont. Firearms are part of our culture. It [carrying firearms] represents the ability of Vermonters  to defend themselves.”

Bradley then cited eight existing state laws addressing gun crime committed in public areas. He is scheduled to complete his testimony Friday morning.

Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.

13 thoughts on “Baruth gun carry ban won’t stop crime, defender general says

  1. With all these “common sense” laws being bandied about, funny how you never see one common sense everybody ignores; namely a law stating “term limits” on all elected officials. With term limits, career politicians like Baruth, would a limited amount of time to put forth legislation as bad as s.30.

    • BrattRed: Likewise having two (2) Senators per county might eliminate him. A bill has been introduced by Sen Benning a couple years back calling for three max.

  2. For some stupid reason these socialists Sens. Balint, Bray, Campion, Chittenden, Clarkson, Cummings, Hardy, Hooker, Lyons, McCormack, Pearson, Perchlik, Ram, Sirotkin and White. must desire to have this legislation to feel safer for themselves?

    They won’t control anyone should they think so., Try it! Power has warped their sense of reality. Hey Scott might have the pen and telephone at the ready to endorse.

    With all the Progs in Montpelier, is this all Baruth could mobilize? Either he’s slipping or the climate is changing there.

  3. Oh yes, that will keep a criminal from carrying a gun into those locations where they now know that the law abiding citizens are not carrying. Donovan and Condos need to look up the definition of “common sense”

  4. Their goal isn’t to stop crime – they don’t care about that. The goal is to burden the citizenry with thousands of restrictions that will eventually result in all of us becoming criminals. Then they can arrest, prosecute and financially ruin any person at will.

  5. Since going to a public place with any weapon with intent to cause mayhem is already prohibited by criminal statute, this proposal is a solution in search of a problem. If someone is intent on criminal harm, one additional law is not going to dissuade them.
    “Isn’t that odd that some public officials are protected by statute and others are not?” asked State Auditor Doug Hoffer.
    Well, isn’t it odd that you would ask someone who carries for self defense to give up THEIR right to be protected by implementing geographical restrictions.
    “People have a right to feel safe and not worry about guns” said Atty Gen. Donovan. Well, Mr. Donovan, with your vast legal knowledge, perhaps you can explain where the US or Vermont Constitution guarantees a right to “feel safe”. Some people “feel safe” when they can make use of their Constitutional Right to responsibly bear a common tool of self-defense.
    A responsible person who carries a firearm for defense of self and others considers that tool to be a SHIELD, not a WEAPON. History has shown that a legally defined “gun free zone” is simply a target-rich environment. Ever since cutbacks to police have become politically fashionable, it is unconscionable that anyone would propose restrictions on those who take responsibility for their own protection. Agreed, it’s a dangerous world…precisely why any further restrictions to self defense should not even be considered.

  6. Here we go again, Phil Baruth just another carpetbagger that either has never read
    the US or Vermont Constitution or just ignores what written in it for an agenda.

    This anti-gunner is at it again pushing his same old agenda from a few years back,
    same old rhetoric and will not fix a problem, the one that we don’t have.

    Let’s make sure we put this nonsense to bed for good, maybe he should go back to
    his home state, he may live here but he isn’t a Vermonter, just a carpetbagger !!

    • White is also a carpetbagger from MN. Balint, cruised in from Germany, Clarkson from Bufffalo NY floated in. Most are from Chittenden Cty. They, including Baruth didn’t have common sense before they came here. They escaped lousy states and seek the same here.

  7. Sen. Baruth, all co-sponsors of S30, and especially Governor Scott, should take time to read the Vermont State Constitution. Here’s what they will find regarding self defense:

    “That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the State as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.” ARTICLE 1, § 16

    Note that the article refers to the right of the “people” to bear arms. That right does not stop at the doorways to “…child care facilities, hospitals and certain public buildings.” This includes the State House.

    Any infringement of that right by our legislators would be in violation of their oath to defend and uphold the constitutions of both Vermont and the US and they should be held accountable for such.

    • ALL GUN CONTROL UNDER THE CONSTITUTION IS ILLEGAL! Government does not give us our rights. Our rights are not given to us by the Constitution. Our rights are given to us by God and are inherent to us as human beings by the Laws of Nature. These rights that we are born with are affirmed to us by the Constitution in the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments of the Constitution and specify what the government can and cannot do to us as citizens of the United States. Government’s only power is the power which is enumerated to it by the Constitution. The federal government, a state or town can not pass a law contrary to the Constitution. Under our Constitution the government is not delegated the authority to legislate, enforce, or adjudicate laws pertaining to the exercise of our rights under the Constitution – Period. The government is not delegated the authority by our Constitution to require government permission to exercise any right affirmed to us under the Constitution. The government is not delegated the authority by our Constitution to compel us to waive our guaranteed 4th Amendment right to be secure from unwarranted interrogation, search, or seizure in the absence of probable cause of criminal conduct. Or compel us to waive our guaranteed 5th Amendment right to due process as a precondition to being allowed (or denied) the exercise of our right to keep and bear arms. This violation of our 4th and 5th Amendment rights happens every time we are interrogated when we fill out BATFE form 4473 without probable cause that a crime has been committed under penalty of perjury to purchase a firearm. The government is not delegated the authority by our Constitution to compel us to waive our 10th Amendment right to a federal government exercising only those powers delegated to it by the United States Constitution, and State governments are prohibited the exercise of any power prohibited to the States by the United States Constitution.
      The government is not delegated the authority under the 14th Amendment to make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States. Government is not even delegated by our Constitution the authority to license firearm dealers or operate or fund the most powerful anti-rights government agency on the planet called the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Since no Amendment in the Bill of Rights has been repealed thru Article V or by a National Convention of States, the only way to legally change the Constitution, all existing gun control laws presently violate five Amendments of the Bill of Rights. The purpose of compelled background checks as a precondition to allowing or denying the transfer of a firearm is to deceive firearm owners and prospective owners into unknowingly waiving their rights guaranteed by the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 10th and 14th Amendments so they will have no rights left to claim when the government decides to confiscate our firearms. We have a right to keep and bear arms, not a privilege to keep and bear arms. Our rights are beyond the reach of government and no one has to ask government permission to exercise a right. Government has no authority delegated by the Constitution to deceive its citizens into waiving their rights or acquiescing to the loss of their rights by subterfuge, scam, fraud, or force. DO NOT VOLUNTARILY GIVE UP YOUR RIGHTS !

      “No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid. To deny this, would be to affirm, that the deputy is greater than his principal; the servant is
      above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers, may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid”. Alexander Hamilton – Federalist No.76

      Unconstitutional Official Acts
      16 Am Jur 2d, Sec 177 late 2d, Sec 256:
      The general misconception is that any statute passed by legislators bearing the appearance of law constitutes the law of the land. The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and any statute, to be valid, must be In agreement. It is impossible for both the Constitution and a law violating it to be valid; one must prevail. This is succinctly stated as follows:
      The General rule is that an unconstitutional statute, though having the form and name of law is in reality no law, but is wholly void, and ineffective for any purpose; since unconstitutionality dates from the time of it’s enactment and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it. An unconstitutional law, in legal contemplation, is as inoperative as if it had never been passed. Such a statute leaves the question that it purports to settle just as it would be had the statute not been enacted. Since an unconstitutional law is void, the general principles follow that it imposes no duties, confers no rights, creates no office, bestows no power or authority on anyone, affords no protection, and justifies no acts performed under it..… A void act cannot be legally consistent with a valid one. An unconstitutional law cannot operate to supersede any existing valid law. Indeed, insofar as a statute runs counter to the fundamental law of the lend, it is superseded thereby.
      No one Is bound to obey an unconstitutional law and no courts are bound to enforce it.

      “An unconstitutional act is not law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; affords no protection; it creates no office; it in legal contemplation, as inoperative as though it has never been passed”.
      Norton vs Shelby County 1886 – 118 US 425 p.442

    • I agree 100%, but where is the punishment for violating their oath of office. Baruth doesn’t care about the Vermont constitution or safety nor do any of them. They are ideologs of which most of them aren’t even from Vermont. They all take an oath to defend and not harm the Vermont constitution under the pains and penalties of perjury. Who charges them for their violations? Nobody, not even the voters. We can’t even rely on the Supreme court to defend the constitution. Idiots keep voting for these people who have no morale compass, critical thinking skills or backbone. The best advice I could give Mr. Baruth is go back to your failed state of birth and leave us alone. Vermont was a much better place to live before the progressive political invasion. I was born, raised and educated here and after all these years I might have to move to escape from these people who are determined to control my every moment and breath I have left.

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