Governor’s gun control push rattles his base

MONTPELIER, Vt. — While gun control groups are cheering a supposed sea change of opposition to firearms freedom across the country, gun rights supporters in Vermont — many of whom voted for Gov. Phil Scott — are expressing frustration over the governor’s apparent softening on the Second Amendment.

In the wake of the recent mass shooting in Florida, and a close call here in Vermont, Scott has embraced the “do something” mantra for gun control and school safety.

Yet while local gun rights supporters have suggested arming schools and allowing police to crack down on violent threats, the governor has thrown his support behind left wing gun control bills making their way through the Legislature.

Among the first groups to call out Scott for slipping on the Second Amendment is the Vermont Libertarian Party.

“Governor Phil Scott hasn’t been paying attention if he thinks Vermonters will sit idly by as he changes his position and enacts new gun control,” the group said this week in a statement. “The ocean of orange at the January 30th statehouse hearing should be enough to inform anyone that Vermonters cherish their gun rights, as protected by both the second amendment and the Vermont Constitution’s sixteenth article.

U.S. Marshals Office of Public Affairs

GUN CONTROL: Gov. Phil Scott’s recent willingness to consider new gun legislation for Vermont threatens to send shockwaves through his base of support.

“The Vermont Libertarian party fully supports the inalienable right to self defense by keeping and bearing firearms. No law abiding citizen should be deprived of their rights because of the actions of a criminal.”

Jeremy Ryan, the party’s chairman, told True North that Scott’s sudden shift on the issue could have a negative impact on his chances for re-election.

“It will depend on who is actually running, however many of us would rather vote for NOTA [none of the above] than support a candidate that we’re not comfortable with.”

Last week, in outlining his plan for school safety, Scott threw his support behind S.221, H.422, H.675 and H.876 — bills that enable police to seize guns in domestic violence situations, spell out judges’ discretion to confiscate guns from “high risk” individuals, and solidify the federal ban on bump stocks.

Scott administration spokeswoman Rebecca Kelley told True North on Wednesday that the recent shooting has compelled the governor to rethink the issue.

“As the governor has said, he is a fierce and strong supporter of all constitutional rights, including the Second Amendment, and continues to be an advocate for that,” she said. “But we faced a very real threat to a school right here in Vermont a few weeks ago, and in reading how close we came, what a close call we had and the details of that, the governor has said we have a rare opportunity to see what we can do better.”

She added that any changes to policies or laws should not violate the Second Amendment or Article 16 of the Vermont Constitution.

Not mentioned in the governor’s school safety plans are universal background checks, banning types of firearms, or arming teachers. However, Scott’s plan directs the Vermont State Police, in coordination with our school security liaison officer, “to conduct security assessments of all schools over the next several weeks.”

When asked if Libertarians might support arming Vermont schools, Ryan responded, “Yes, having armed security and allowing staff to arm themselves on school grounds is a good policy.”

Deborah Billado, chair of the Vermont GOP, said she thinks Scott will be “easily re-elected” in November. However, she agrees that gun control is one of those topics that enflames voters.

“Gun control is a very charged issue,” she said. “There are proposals on the table and let’s see how it unfolds over the next few months. As with all hot-button issues, there are people who are content, people who are unhappy and then those who are not paying attention and do not much care.”

On the other side of the gun debate, some are cheering Scott on. Martha Allen, president of Vermont-NEA, issued a statement in support of Scott’s new openness to gun restrictions.

“Unlike the president and his preposterous proposal to arm teachers with guns, Vermont’s leaders actually made a commitment today to start the hard work of making sure that what happened in Florida last week – and almost happened here a day later – never occurs again,” she said in a statement.

“I commend Gov. Scott, Attorney General Donovan, House Speaker Mitzi Johnson and Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe for coming out strongly in favor of enacting common-sense measures to stem gun violence.”

But on some of the bills, any compromise with the left will have only very fragile support.

Bill Moore, a firearms policy analyst for the Vermont Traditions Coalition, said the gun rights community might be willing to get behind S.221, which pertains to “extreme risk protection orders.” The bill would allow authorities, following a judge’s order, to take away guns for a 14-day period from people planning a violent attack or suicide.

However, he added that as of Wednesday morning, the House Judiciary Committee was considering changes proposed by the governor’s legal counsel, Jaye Pershing Johnson, that could threaten that support.

“By proposing changes to the bill and supporting H.422 elements being incorporated in S.221, she is effectively killing the fragile coalition that’s been built around this bill,” Moore said.

“The changes likely to come from House Judiciary on S.221 will recklessly reduce due process protections and likely infringe on lawful firearms owners’ Fourth Amendment and Second Amendment rights.”

Ryan agrees that lawmakers could cross the line and take away legal rights.

“Both H.422 and H.675 violate due process, even beyond the firearms confiscation,” he said. “What right does a judge have to impose any sort of punishment on a person who is innocent?”

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of U.S. Marshals Office of Public Affairs

19 thoughts on “Governor’s gun control push rattles his base

  1. Scott is a Liberal wolf in a sheep’s outfit. Comments herein state they will no vote for this rino again, agree. I’ve seen newspaper articles about small business guy, Keith Stern of White River, formerly of Springfield.

    The writings and his stated positions seem to be what VT needs. Look him up. Such people don’t have the resources to get good exposure as entrenched politicians. I was educated in Springfield, similarities, but I ain’t running.

    The newspaper The MESSAGE 9/6-12, 2017 had an article. Perhaps others may as well. ie VT Digger. Hope the VT Republican Party gets behind him. The VRP needs contacting about the dislike of Scott.

  2. Phillip Scott ( I refuse to call him Governor ever again) made a promise to the gun owners in this state, when we helped get him elected, that he would never pass any gun legislation yet he is the one pushing to have it passed as soon as possible..

    This man is a traitor to the people in the state of Vermont which is the safest state in the nation as far as guns go.

    Phil Scott my father always said a man is only as good as his word…

    You still have time to prove your worth

    Any reasonable person knows that any steps other than the bill s221 are absolutely unnecessary and only hurt the hard-working tax-paying honest gun owners in the state of Vermont.

    Any legislator that was involved in this disgusting legislation and helping to pass it needs to be removed from office..

    The Socialist agenda at the hands of those that have come to Vermont from other states will eventually destroy this beautiful state where I was born and raised.

  3. Even before Vermont was a state, the brave men and women, young boys, and girls used guns to protect themselves and feed their families. They used those guns to assist them in settling the Green Mountain State. Brave Vermonters went on to fight for their freedoms and the freedoms of others using their firearms. Vermonters continued to feed and protect their families with their firearms, just as they do today.

    In the writing of Vermont’s Constitution the Second Amendment was reiterated. It is important to note that Vermont’s Constitution is the shortest of all the state Constitutions, clearly they felt that the PEOPLES right to bear arms was important enough to include.
    Chapter 1, Article 16. [Right to bear arms; standing armies; military power subordinate to civil]
    That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State–and 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.

    Here we are in 2018 fighting to keep our State Constitutional right to bear arms! Has the Vermont government forgotten that the State doesn’t have rights, the PEOPLE have the rights, the government has limited powers, powers that are outlined by the Constitution. Keep in mind “Every officer, whether judicial, executive, or military… The Oath or Affirmation of Allegiance
    “You __________ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that you will be true and faithful to the State of Vermont, and that you will not, directly or indirectly, do any act or thing injurious to the Constitution”

    Are you sick and tired of having to fight for your Constitutional rights? You should be!
    The state is stepping all over us with their thirst for more power.

  4. Peter Smith thought he would easily be reelected as well. Ask him how that went!

  5. Vermont Gun owners , wake up they are chipping away at your rights and your letting them do it .

    Every time I’ve been to Montpelier to voice my concerns against new gun laws, I see the same cast of
    characters maybe ( 200 – 1,000 ) where are the rest of the gun owners ………wake up ??

    They’ll chip away until your rights are all gone ……. Now that’s an agenda !!

  6. “Republican Gov. Phil Scott as part of a slate of gun-control and school-safety measures. It differs from the governor’s proposal in one key respect: Scott’s would allow those under 21 who take a gun safety course to buy firearms, while Ashe’s would not.”

    “At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Scott said he would prefer his version of the age restriction, but if one resembling Ashe’s reached his desk, “I could find a way to support that.”

    I’m surprised Gov. Scott would be so willing to support such violations to Article 16 of the Vermont Constitution,because come election time I can’t and won’t support Gov. Scott

  7. The idea of passing any law based on emotion is wrong. Forget guns. Maybe legislators should have a 6 month waiting period to propose and pass a law after one of these emotional episodes. This might be time enough to get over knee jerk, petulant, self serving, and immature responses….This of course would include Phil the traitor…

  8. It isn’t only the governor, Baruth, Johnson, Ashe and Zukerman are all from out of state but hold the highest political positions in the Vermont legislature. What will possibly wake voters up to the fact that these people take freedom away from citizens because they are progressives. The student arrested here for threatening his school was caught because the system worked. It didn’t require another law. Generally, when government fails to protect it’s citizenry they need to find an excuse.

    The shooter in Burlington at Nectar’s had numerous felony convictions in New Jersey and was out on bail for another felony committed in Vermont. He was under release conditions to not be in a bar to consume alcohol, not take drugs and it was already illegal for him to possess a firearm. His Facebook page shows a video of him firing an AR type rifle even though he was not supposed to be around firearms. There’s another video of him dancing and displaying a semi-auto hand gun. All written words that he could care less about so he goes to the bar with a gun that he obtained illegally and shoots into a crowd. The mayor of Burlington says that we need a law to prevent people from carrying a gun into a bar. This is the type of ignorance rampant in Vermont politicians. Does anyone really think that this guy wouldn’t have had that gun if the mayor said he couldn’t by passing another law?

    So here is what they do, they make a law that only responsible people will follow and strip them of their natural and constitutional right to protect themselves and allow criminals to attack more freely knowing they have nothing to fear from law abiding people. This guy should have been in jail in New Jersey and not on our streets. But he got here, committed another felony and was still on the street to reek havoc in a downtown bar injuring and almost killing an young woman. Some how that is supposed to be the fault of law abiding people so let’s chip away at their rights.

    I am going to wait through one more election cycle. If Vermont, my birth state continues to erode my constitutional rights I will be leaving like so many others already have. I am not going to stay in a state where criminals are allowed to roam the streets with impunity while my legislature steels my constitutional rights. If the governor can not honor our constitution that he took an oath to defend I can not give him my vote again. Voter’s are losing their state to progressives from other states and are either blind, dumb or just plain too ignorant to see it.

    • Well written , you are correct the problem is that the ” Liberal Thinkers ” we have running the state believe laws will be obeyed by Criminals and Nut Jobs , now there is some mental deficiency !!.

      Just look at what happened in Burlington and what that foolish Mayor stated to fix the problem………………Here we have a “POS ” up here hiding from NJ !!

      He knows that Liberals in Burlington , welcomes with open arms !!

    • I’ll be right behind you and go to a state that treasures the 2nd amendment and also does not tax social security. The gun restriction is just one more reason to leave my home state to establish another home. The only thing that we get in Vermont is tighter restrictions, tighter regulation, and excessive taxation and most of it all created by transplanted influence.

    • You nailed that. I am also a native and feel exactly the same way. Coupled with the runaway spending, Vermont is in trouble.

  9. Who makes the decision of who might be a high risk? In a progressive, liberal state a conservative who expresses strong feelings toward the bill of rights, belongs to the NRA, and is God fearing might be considered high risk or a domestic terrorist by those who can make those biased judgements. Where would these limits be drawn and by whom?

    • During the previous administration the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program ‘Operation Vigilant Eagle’ tracked military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Many vets were characterized as extremists and potential domestic terrorist threats because they might have been “disgruntled, disillusioned or suffering from the psychological effects of war.”

      The list of vets killed by SWAT, imprisoned for expressing their criticism of Government, denied their Second Amendment rights and allowed to die by the legions of rotten, corrupt VA officials is long and is a huge stain on our country.

  10. The Governor may get a pass on bill S221 “extreme risk protection orders.”. But if the left thinks that this will open the door to effortlessly passing liberal ” Feel Good ” gun bills, they are totally wrong.

    Vermont gun owners with stand , the Liberal ( transplants ) in Montpelier, well they just don’t get it and we don’t want it !!

  11. Gov. Who,that unwavering consecrative rock need not count on support from me. As I don’t vote for Leftist’s or candidates that fail to support the Constitution Vermont’s and Federal.

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