Gun control push grows stronger at the Vermont Statehouse

Michael Bielawski/TNR

COMING FOR GUNS: House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, D-South Hero, talks at the Statehouse among Democrat and Progressive leaders in a push to support gun restrictions.

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Guns and more guns was the issue of the day as lawmakers and high school students alike gathered at the Statehouse Thursday to call for new gun restrictions in response to the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

The bills being called for are S.6, universal background check legislation, H.422, which gives police the ability to seize guns from those cited for domestic violence, and S.221, which would let a court deem someone an “extreme risk” to the public and have their guns taken away for up to a year.

One of the news conferences was led by Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan.

“People who pose a threat to our public safety forfeit their right to poses a gun,” he said. “This is about protecting our community, protecting our most vulnerable, and the kids of our community.

“That’s why as our chief law enforcement officer, I support closing the loophole and passing universal background checks in the state of Vermont.”

During the question and answer period, Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, fielded a question regarding the enforceability of universal background checks, considering buyers, sellers and federal firearms license dealers need to collaborate closely for a background check to work.

“Some have raised different concerns about if any one strategy will solve the entire public safety problem,” Ashe said. “I think universal background checks, as we’ve seen in other states, they don’t solve every problem with one fell swoop.

“The important thing is to ensure is that most laws that govern the state of Vermont and the people that live here rely on people following the law, so our expectation, of course, is whenever we pass a law that people will follow it.”

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, D-South Hero, was asked if lawmakers would consider banning AR-15 semi-automatic rifles, and her answer appeared to suggest that bans on specific guns were not yet part of the discussion.

“I know with other types of legislation, when we start limiting a specific something, then something else pops up,” she said. “So, I want to make sure that what we do is effective, implementable (and) supports a longstanding tradition of safe gun ownership in Vermont.”

Shortly before the news conference, Eddie Cutler, president of the gun rights group Gun Owners of Vermont, testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the proposed gun restrictions. He told the committee that his group is already involved in helping people who may be considered a suicide risk, something that S.221 also addresses.

“Gun Owners of Vermont has become heavily involved in a gatekeeper program in which they are training us to recognize these people, sit down and help them out, and talk them into seeking counseling,” he said. “We’ve had four successes in the last two years.”

Michael Bielawski/TNR

High school students Emma Harter and Nadia Scoppettone led a news conference surrounded by peers as they called for strict gun control.

He said one of the lessons learned in working on this program is that it is not beneficial to take anyone’s guns away.

“I just want to get this straight, the worst thing you can do — and you can check with the Department of Health, and anybody else who is involved in this work — the last thing you want to do is ostracize these people, because they will not seek treatment or help from us or anybody else.”

Two Montpelier High School seniors, Emma Harter and Nadia Scoppettone, led another news conference surrounded by peers as they called for strict gun control.

“We will not accept the lax gun laws present today that continually allow for tragedies such as at Columbine High School, Sandy Hook and most recently Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School,” Scoppettone said. “The youth of today are brought up in a reality that normalizes gun violence.

“There are resources dedicated to training all of us to avoid being killed while in school. At times it seems like drilling is a part of our curriculum.”

Harter offered similar comments.

“Despite tragedy and bitter partisan feuds, we will facilitate change,” she said. “In a direct address to Vermont politicians, you have the legislative ability to remove the fear from our schools and remove the distraction from our education. We demand that you do so, and you can start by passing S.6, S.221, and H.422.”

Words from Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman rang true for both sides of the gun debate.

“People are picking up the phone, people are sending emails. And to project what will happen over the next week or two is not entirely our job,” he said. “Our job is to have the process move forward, and the results will reflect what the people ask for.”

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

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR

27 thoughts on “Gun control push grows stronger at the Vermont Statehouse

  1. Why are there so many great commenters outside Montpelier than within? I have hope reading have to get the sheeple (couch potatoes-fat) to wake up for their own benefit. Result of the Gov school systems.

    • I urge everyone to read and think about article 16 of the Vermont constitution. It truly is food for thought. In this state this might be more of an absolute right than the 2nd amendment to the U.S. constitution.

      • Correct,however the Governor and his good friends the left want to force a tyranny against the civil rights of the people of Vermont,for there own good.
        If he intended to be a one term governor he’s done a excellent job of it.

  2. In Vermont we can vote these people out. All of you democrats have to realize that this is not the party you used to belong to. I was a democrat as were my parents. I ran for local office twice as a democrat. Howard Dean was one of the most arrogant people I have ever met. I saw the inner workings of this party. Shortly after that I realized they were for everything I was against. It has only gotten worse. They call themselves democrats but are really progressives. They are about power and control. Look what they are doing to Vermont. David Zuckerman is from Connecticut, Phil Baruth is from New York, Tim Ashe is from Massachusetts, Mitzy Johnson, from New York are you getting the picture. The top tier of the Vermont legislature all are from other states. They are here because as Vermonters you are too stupid to run your own life. Wake up!

    • “They call themselves democrats but are really progressives”

      Which is PC for Communist.
      Every senator from Chittenden county needs to be voted out of office then they are freed up to return to where they came from .

    • Great research, add Sen. Alison H. Clarkson, Windsor (from Woodstock)
      This ultra Liberal voted for $318 million in programs & sending. Hey ya flatlander (Buffalo, ed in MA), where are you sources for getting this money???

      They say, “I like to vote for any program”, it feels so good. They didn’t get schooling in economics, guns and butter.

  3. The cry by high school students has nothing to do with anything that will make a real difference in criminal actions. Raising the age limit for rifle purchase would be a good idea as long as we include a few other limits such as 21 for military service, voting, abortion, driving and any other thing that they take for granted. I am old enough to remember when high school students were burning flags,bras and spitting on men coming back from Vietnam. Only now do we realize the misdirection of their anger

  4. I view this ‘hurry up and do something’ legislation as the camels nose under the tent response. First, the unconstitunal part of it where a citizen can be guilty until proven innocent. Second, when that doesn’t work, we’ll have to start applying more restrictions on the citizens of the state which happens to be the safest state in the US. Eventually, we’ll be banned from owning ANY firearms. Just Like Adolf did in the 30’s. How did that work out??

  5. I wonder who Gov. Scott thinks may vote for him should he consider to run for reelection in the future. Perhaps he is under the illusion that the Left and Independents are a large enough voting block to carry the vote for him,should he choose to run.

  6. Every one of the mass shooting perpetrators passed the background check to purchase the firearm that they had used, except for the movie theater shooter who stole his mother firearm after killing her. The background check system only works if state and local law enforcement departments report behavioral and criminal events to the NICS check center, however, blue state legislatures don’t seem to want to do this as it may work and thus nullify their anti-gun rhetoric destroying their agenda . The statistics show that the majority of the 38 red states report upwards of 95% of criminal histories where the blue states report less than 80%. Here’s a quote from the biggest mass murderer in history; “The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.”

    ― Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

    Or from another mass murderer; “All political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The communist party must command all the guns, that way, no guns can ever be used to command the party.”
    – Mao Tse Tung

  7. ha ha ha ha

    ““The important thing is to ensure is that most laws that govern the state of Vermont and the people that live here rely on people following the law, so our expectation, of course, is whenever we pass a law that people will follow it.”

    Dennis Morrisseau
    USArmy Officer [Vietnam era] ANTI-WAR

    Lieutenant Morrisseau’s Rebellion
    LIBERTY UNION founder
    Second Vermont Republic, VFM
    POB 177, W. Pawlet, VT 05775
    802 645 9727 9727

  8. Why do you blame the “gun”? It didn’t pull the trigger. It is the one that pulls the trigger that you should be thinking about. Today because of the media, drugs are a lot of what causes a person to pull that trigger and they are not even considering the life they are taking but hatred within their heart and mind. These are the things that need to be dealt with not the gun. Watching a movie where killings are taken place don’t touch the heart of the one watching the movie. Violence is becoming a big issue today. More than it ever was. Maybe these people should be put on the battle field and let them shot legal enemies.

  9. This whole story is about a young man who is at a cross roads. This same story has played out for years, starting in the late 1960’s. It is a story and trajectory that we shouldn’t go down. We are taking away the purpose for young men and not guiding them. There are groups that do tremendous work with young men and get them on the right path, Boys Town, and Steve Harvey’s camp.
    This young man is facing the same dilemma that we have given to our inner cities. We have unintentionally destroyed the family in inner cities, men have no responsibilities no path forward. He’s clearly struggling with finding a path, section 8 housing aka “affordable housing” is not the answer. If this young man was able to get on the first rung of the ladder…..he’d find some worth. If he were mentored…..he’s easily find his way. Being able to purchase a home for $600/mos is attainable, character building and affordable on most any salary, we just have to allow modest housing and we don’t.
    In our inner cities we took this path of complete gun control, but you’ll find we have the most violence in our inner cities, this is not by accident. We in Vermont are experiencing the same drug, violence, broken families and troubled young men and women that are found in our inner cities. We should not follow the same path, but as you can see we are adopting the policies and we are getting the same exact results, to the detriment of our kids, society everyone the only difference is we don’t put our poor in big sky scrapers, but we are developing housing projects.
    These gun laws are empty and useless, they are false, they do nothing to bring about peace in the man or society. A rescue dog can be abused all it’s life, and with care and training become adjusted and functional in a family. That’s what Boys Town, Steve Harvey’s camp, True North and most importantly involved fathers do for their children. This is the problem we need to address, it’s inexpensive, effective and loving. Our current course will not be changed by any gun law as it doesn’t even address the problem and our issues.

  10. I can scream, yell and protest against gun violence and the NRA but what do you really know about hunting, shooting or the thought of using a gun for recreational purposes. Have you ever signed up for a NRA coarse that teaches proper gun use, shooting safety and techniques. My guess is no.

    I find that most of the people that are against guns in any way, shape or form have never experienced the fun and enjoyment that shooting provides. I was lucky for I grew up in a household where hunting and shooting were normal activities. We were taught at a young age on gun handling, safety, proper shooting technique and most important, respect and responsibility. We had full access to guns but we never touch a one without asking permission first.
    Stop blaming the gun and take a look in the mirror. That’s where the responsibility lies.

    • I’m not an NRA member but I was Vermont’s first civilian hunter safety instructor and have educated thousands of our youth in VT during 49 consecutive years of instruction. You lose your “bet”. Another knee-jerk reaction

  11. What a cop out, Zuckerman. Think for yourself. No–just pile up the responses of your pink slip whacko constituents and call that a ” majority” to take away rights. REMEMBER PETER SMITH—he made a promise and broke it with gun rights Vermont—-kicked out of office FOREVER!


    • Speaking of Mr. Zuckerman this is his response to a No New Gun Control e mail I sent to him ,this is a reply I received through a representative of his.
      I’ve never voted for the man and from the reply from his representative I Never will. Below is his representatives response

      Dear ,

      On behalf of Lt. Governor Zuckerman I want to thank you for message and for taking the time to share your perspective.

      Lt. Governor Zuckerman has been a supporter of universal background checks for many years. Yesterday he proudly stood with our Attorney General and the leadership of the Senate and House at a press conference and committed to begin the process of reforming our gun laws to increase safety in Vermont.

      Over the last 2 weeks we have received many messages, from teachers, doctors, law enforcement, hunters, parents and students. All of them are asking us to do our job and address public safety and the safety of children here in Vermont.

      The discussion is advancing and solutions are being addressed in several committees in the House and Senate. Next week the full Senate will debate and vote on S.6 and S.221, requiring universal background checks and giving law enforcement power to remove weapons when they perceive a threat. The conversation has changed and debate is moving because constituents like you are making your voices heard, sharing your ideas, and asking for action.

      The Lt. Governor and your legislators believe it is possible to reform our gun laws and increase public safety without compromising our constitutional rights. They also recognize any progress made is just the first step. We must address the underlying causes of violence in our society such as poverty, mental illness, bullying and more. We hope you will stay engaged as we move forward.

      You can follow the progress of the bills mentioned above (and all bills) by visiting the Legislative website and entering the bill number in the search field. You can also click on Committees and find the contacts for each committee and for your legislators.

      If you would like to watch the press conference or read the full remarks by the Lt. Governor you can find them here:

      Regards, Meg

  12. “Emma Harter and Nadia Scoppettone, led another news conference surrounded by peers as they called for strict gun control.”

    I realize that civics are not high in priority in todays government education centers. However I wonder if the two students could explain in a Constitutional Republic,if a citizen forfeits his Liberty by committing a crime,just why it should be applied to the whole citizenry who are guilty of no crime,by denial of their natural civil right.

    ” Scoppettone said. “The youth of today are brought up in a reality that normalizes gun violence.

    Rather it by the sounds of it would appear with the lack of civics and history in todays curriculum the youth of today are brought up to be unquestioning compliant subjects.

    • You raise the issue of Collective Punishment, which happens to be illegal in schools as well as the Geneva Convention. That point was in my letter to Governor Scott and my Senators/Rep.
      I refuse to be punished for the actions of a few terrorists and deranged teenagers. Taking that route is the action of a coward, and it appears there are a number of them to go around in Montpelier, DC and beyond.
      Would all those screaming for more ‘gun control’ and bans support firing the entire Parkland Sheriff’s office because four armed deputies froze?

  13. The analogies being made to getting a drivers license is absurd. You have a right to bear arms. Driving is a privilege. You have to earn a privilege. A right is innate.

  14. We cannot deny that there is a onslaught of horrific tragedies in our schools , but why ??
    But then, we already know the answer, soft targets and deranged individuals.

    So lets not blame the ” perpetrator ‘ of any crime, lets blame the tool they use !! So if you are
    drunk or stoned while driving and hit someone killing them then lets blame the auto maker,
    that’s the same stupidity being used on this issue .

    So what’s the first thing liberals in Montpelier want, it’s to pass three gun bill they have
    been pushing for years, that would not have stopped any of the current school tragedies
    and using these school tragedies to push them through is ( shameful ) as they new they
    would never pass on there own merit !!

    So secure the schools, be it badge access doors ( ID ), metal detectors and some sort
    of armed personal ( Fully Trained ) that can keep people out of the buildings. If you know
    of a student with issues report it , your not helping by staying quit .

    Knee jerk reactions never fixed a thing and that’s the path we are on !!!

  15. What we have here is another solution searching for a problem. There are some 20,000 laws, Federal, State and Local codifying how one may own, carry and or conceal a weapon. All of this legislation hasn’t stopped one criminal act.

    We just finished the research on Loon Watch on school shootings from Columbine to present. Very difficult since all public shootings are mixed together. We wanted to take only elementary and high school but wound up including college too since they are ‘Gun Free Zone’ also.We used only those where death resulted and only where the deaths consisted of more than the shooter. We didn’t include injured; they were/are numerous.

    The press makes it sound like it is wholesale slaughter. We think any deaths are too many but when you make a place a free fire zone, some one is going to take advantage. How many deaths do you think occurred 200? 300? 475? Over 500 since Columbine in 1999?
    No that many. Between 132 and 140 which comes out to being about 8 per year. More die from eating Tide Pods in a month or from texting while driving. Is anyone screeching about banning Tide Pods or raising the age for owning a cell phone to 21? How about driving while texting is an immediate revocation of driver’s license.
    Nah, the police blotter in the papers has many arrests for DLS.

    You cannot legislate morality. These mushwit need to learn respect first for themselves, then for others and learn civic responsibility. The schools stopped teaching that back in the mid 60’s.

    Here’s the list:

    4/99 Columbine 12 killed
    10/06 Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania 5 killed
    4/07 Virginia Tech 32 killed
    8/07 Delaware State 3 killed
    2/08 Northern Illinois 5 killed
    10/08 University of Central Arkansas 2 killed
    2/10 University of Alabama 3 killed (Prof on Prof)
    1/11 Millard South High 2 killed
    2/12 Chardon High 3 killed
    12/12 Sandy Hook 26 killed
    6/13 Santa Monica College’s library 5 killed
    10/15 Umpqua Community College 10 killed
    9/16 Townville Elementary 2 killed
    12/17 Aztec High 3 killed
    1/18 Marshall County High 2 killed
    2/18 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High 17 killed

    This included the three professors shot and killed by another professor since that was done in a ‘Gun Free Zone’.

  16. Dear Ms Harter and Ms Scoppettone. I am an 8th generation Vermonter who grew up with guns just as all of my ancestors did. We all hunted, engaged in target practice and had easy access to both guns and ammunition. Guns were sold through the mail via Sears and also locally in just about every hardware or department store. As children we had toy guns. We watched our cowboy heros as they engaged the bad guys with their guns or chased Indians in battle after battle. As children we emulated them with our toys. Later on, like all young guys, we got in fights. We punched and kicked and yelled, but we never picked up a gun in anger and I don’t know of any who did. The question you need to ask is, what the hell is wrong with young people today and how did they get the way they are? I see people shooting, stabbing, beating, others. I see infants being beaten to death by their fathers. I see news reports of puppies being tossed out of 7th floor windows or stuffed in a bag and thrown in the river. Now your answer is more gun control? That will be just about as effective as more drug laws or more laws making it illegal to beat your wife.
    I once heard a debate on gun control where a Vermont State Trooper was asked how he felt about more gun laws. He explained that the most recent murders he investigated were committed with a knife or a baseball bat. Are we going to ban those also? How about the carnage on the road caused by irresponsible drivers? Are you going to ban cars also? Where does it end. The answer isn’t in banning more objects, the answer is curing the sick morality of many of the people in this country. That is unless you are willing to admit that your generation is just too damned stupid and too damned irresponsible to be trusted with anything that could be used as a weapon. Is that the case?

    • How many of our youth are guilty of driving and texting or distracted driving while yakking on a cell phone? How many have grown in a culture of violent video games, warping, and numbing minds to accept violence as a norm? Where is the outrage there? Where is the parenting and personal responsibility? ‘nough said.

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