Editor’s note: The following is the Gun Owners of Vermont April 19 update written by GoVT President Eric Davis.
The GoVT updates return after a couple-week hiatus in which the Legislature worked diligently on inserting themselves into other parts of life in VT which do not involve firearms, but now it’s back to guns this week, which means back to work for us.
For those who have been out of the loop, there are currently two gun bills in play for 2021: H.133 (firearm relinquishment for temporary RFAs) and S.30 (prohibition of firearms in hospitals). Detailed breakdowns of both bills and all testimony given thus far by GoVT can be viewed on our website. We also encourage folks to read our updates from previous weeks which give the “cliff notes” on the progress and transformation of these bills.
Both bills have passed their respective chambers of origin and are now headed to the opposite chambers for consideration and vote. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to take up H.133 on Thursday of this week at 9 a.m. and GoVT is on the agenda to give testimony along with The Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, the Vermont Traditions Coalition and all the usual suspects from the domestic violence prevention groups and the State of Vermont who never met a gun bill they didn’t enthusiastically support.
We fought hard against both bills in their original committees to almost no avail and will continue to do so with what will likely amount to the same results. The unfortunate reality is that these bills are seen by most legislators as favorable measures of public protection, regardless of any and all reason, logic, or emotional argument to the contrary. I would encourage anyone with questions on specifics to have a look at our last testimony on H.133 in which we laid out our reasoning for why this sort of bill should not be passed. It can be viewed in its entirety along with all other GoVT testimony on our website.
If you watch the video from that hearing, I deliver my message of about 2,800 words to an incomplete and disinterested committee who asked me no questions afterwards. Upon completion of my presentation, Chair Grad simply said “OK, thanks” and proceeded to the next order of business. It appears that every person in that group had their mind made up long before we were even invited to testify, which begs the question, if our involvement in this process is one of substance or if we are just there for show – so they can say they “took testimony from all sides.”
Senate Judiciary has historically been more deliberative than the House committee, but judging from what we saw with S.30, we are not overly optimistic for a positive outcome on H.133. No action is currently scheduled on S.30, but it is only a matter of time before they put it on the agenda, take testimony on it so they can “hear from all sides,” and subsequently pass it through committee and the House floor, hopefully without having amended it into a worse piece of legislation than it currently is.
Both bills passed the first round of floor votes with a 2/3 majority which suggests that even on the astronomically slim chance that Governor Scott actually decides to veto them, that veto could be overridden.
The sad reality is that the legislators in Vermont who “get it” — the ones who understand why it’s so important to preserve individual rights — are vastly outnumbered by legislators who don’t care and see the constitution as an impediment to social progress. For this to change, advocates of liberty need to change their approach to the problem.
For years, we ignored the people in Montpelier who make our laws. In fact, the legislature in Vermont used to meet only every other year and only for a few weeks to hammer out a budget before they all went back to their real jobs — which they all had. Slowly, it changed as the interventionists began to flood this state and get themselves elected to office; they began to tinker with our laws, passing silly bills about this and that. Still, we did little more than scoff at them, maybe grumbling something about “those idiots in Montpelier” over coffee break before we went back to work. Over the years the absurdity under the dome continued and evolved almost unabated as the rest of us went about our lives just wanting to be left alone until we reached that dreadful moment in 2018 when we realized that nothing was sacred to these people and that even our newly elected “pro-gun” governor would gladly sacrifice our rights to the gods of central planning.
By the time we realized we were in trouble it was too late, and we have been playing from behind ever since. Having little to no experience solving problems with the political process, gun rights activists have been reduced to infighting over petty and irrelevant partisan issues while we watch our rights slowly slip away. If we want to change what we get out of our government, we must start by changing what we put into it. If we want our government to respect our sovereignty as individuals, we need to start by holding ourselves as individuals accountable to the task of keeping our elected officials on point, and that means more than standing on the sidelines yelling “shall not be infringed.”
As always, keep in contact with your reps but also be thinking about the representation in your area and what we can do to make it better. All state Reps and Senators are up for reelection every two years; what can we do to get our people involved in running for office and helping campaign? Are there any local elections coming up where we could make a difference? Get involved in your community – coach a little league team, join your local fire department, go to church – whatever gets you involved with your neighbors and their families and spread our influence in a positive way.
And finally, become a dues paying member of your local gun and sportsmen’s clubs, state-level political action groups and national gun rights advocacy organizations, in that order.
All of us at GoVT want to thank each and every one of you who get involved and also give a special thanks to the courageous few legislators who have had the fortitude to stand for what is right during these difficult times. Together we can make a difference.
President, Gun Owners of Vermont