John Klar: Vermont needs trigger locks on progressive zealots, not guns

A pending Vermont bill purports to be designed to “reduce suicide in Vermont, including mechanisms that reduce access to lethal means.”

Despite the veil of social concern, H.230 is flagrantly aimed at gun rights, not suicide prevention. Constitutional questions relating to personal liberties and the Second Amendment are unavoidable. This effort will not prevent suicides: it instead exploits them to push a political agenda.

John Klar

If Vermont’s progressive supermajority rams H.230 into law, it will almost certainly be struck down as unconstitutional. The right to keep and bear arms is a well-recognized fundamental constitutional protection. Government action that impedes that liberty will be subjected to close scrutiny — as it should. The burden will be on the government, in this case the State of Vermont, to prove in court that its suicide-justified infringements are merited.

H.230, which just passed in the Vermont House last week, would require all guns be held in “safe storage,” expand the availability of Extreme Risk Protection Orders, and institute a 72-hour waiting period. The so-called safe storage and waiting period provisions are particularly offensive to basic Second Amendment laws. It is unclear how Vermont’s attorney general could pervert the language of clear supreme court precedents to approve of H.230, especially after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia specifically identified a trigger lock as a violation in Heller. How much more of a transgression is a requirement to lock guns in cabinets.

The very purpose of a gun is to have it handy — not locked up — in the event of need. In the case of the waiting period requirement of H.230, the argument is that this will prevent suicidal people from buying guns for self-harm. But this ignores the countervailing need for citizens placed suddenly in fear for their safety to obtain a weapon to protect their lives, especially women victims of domestic abuse.

There appears to be no consideration of the rights of self-protection in H.230. Attorney General Charity Clark has endorsed a statute that will prevent women from defending themselves because they had to wait to buy a gun, or had to keep their gun locked up while their psycho-ex broke down the bedroom door. 

Fortunately, the United States Supreme Court protects these women, by protecting them from grossly distorted statutes like H.230. McDonald held that the right to individual self-defense is the “central component” of the Second Amendment; Heller specifically criticized trigger locks (similar to gun safes) as making that core purpose impossible.

The Vermont State Constitution plainly states: “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.”

This language is very specific in defining this as an individual, and not merely a militia right, as many on the left seek to limit it. Vermont’s laws are historically very respectful of this right, however ignored by its attorney general. Clearly, H.230 directly violates not just the Vermont Constitution, but U.S. Supreme Court interpretations of the Second Amendment.

In deciding whether a statute such as H.230 is permissible, the U.S. Supreme Court in Bruen set forth the standard that “historical analogical assessment” must be employed to demonstrate that a modern gun regulation was similar to government restrictions in American history:

Much like we use history to determine which modern “arms” are protected by the Second Amendment, so too does history guide our consideration of modern regulations that were unimaginable at the founding. When confronting such present-day firearm regulations, this historical inquiry that courts must conduct will often involve reasoning by analogy. … Therefore, whether modern and historical regulations impose a comparable burden on the right of armed self-defense and whether that burden is comparably justified are “‘central’” considerations when engaging in an analogical inquiry. … Analogical reasoning requires only that the government identify a well-established and representative historical analogue, not a historical twin.

There was clearly no analogical reasoning employed by Charity Clark. There are no Vermont precedents for locking weapons in home safes, let alone a “well-established and representative historic analogue.” What stretch of logic will Charity employ – child safety caps on Tylenol bottles? There are, in contrast, ample historical precedents of pastors freely keeping their loaded weapons handy during church services in Vermont. There is no jurisprudential credibility in an attorney general willing to ignore clear law this openly.

Meanwhile, to impose these constraints on home weapons, the government must prove a compelling purpose to protect public safety. But there is no evidence that waiting periods (or gun safes) will prevent suicides, just as there is no evidence of how many women might die if unable to purchase a gun to defend themselves from an assailant, or required to lock them in a box when assaulted in the dark of the night.

As Vermont Federation of Sportsman’s Clubs President Chris Bradley recently explained:

Despite an increase of 376,409 firearms in the hands of Vermonters from 2011-2020, there appears to be no appreciable change to Vermont’s rate of suicide by firearm for that same period. … Testimony before House Judiciary revealed 2 incidents where someone went to a Gun Store, bought a gun, and then used that gun to end their lives. 

Vermont Progressives have opened Vermont for business to drug traffickers, undermined economic growth, caused artificial rises in housing prices due to decades of restrictive land-use legislation, and saturated schoolchildren with terrifying active-shooter drills, climate alarmism, and unproven ideological “theories” regarding race and gender. Anxiety, depression, and suicide have spiked, along with drug overdoses. Injection of fentanyl is a very easy and painless path to suicide — but the leftists undermine the police and help the opioids flow. Many more people are dying from drug overdose than gun suicide. But Vermont progressives want to lock up law-abiding citizens’ guns, while not locking up those who break the laws; to stigmatize guns, while destigmatizing drug needles.

If the sponsors of H.230 truly wanted to help prevent suicide, they would become conservatives. Then they could bolster police, support drug interdiction, boost economic growth and housing, and otherwise give Vermont’s young people a fighting chance. Instead, they are mandating padlocks on gun safes, making no one safer.

What Vermont needs is trigger locks on progressive zealots who ignore fundamental liberties in their zeal to accomplish nothing whatsoever beneficial. 

John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield. © Copyright True North Reports 2023. All rights reserved.

Image courtesy of Public domain

9 thoughts on “John Klar: Vermont needs trigger locks on progressive zealots, not guns

  1. one of the strategies for their cause is frame the conversation AND response.

    they expect a certain response, they then reframe it to their constituents on every smart phone in Vermont.

    Their goal is to frame republicans as people who don’t care about others. Who don’t care about the environment.

    They don’t even need to win the case, if they can keep the public discussion around this people will never come together,

    and that is the ultimate goal.

    Fear and fighting give them the entire control, they are in control of EVERONE”S spirit. One can be correct and right in the debate and lose the court of public opinion. You can’t win any hearts and minds without love. It’s costs us nothing to be more loving and compassionate, AND to be solving the problem. We all know guns’ don’t suddenly kill somebody, just like cars don’t suddenly speed.

    The achilles heel of the uniparty is they NEVER, NEVER, NEVER want to solve the problem. It is not their goal, their goal is power and money.

    They don’t care about suicides. They don’t care about crime. They don’t care about murders. They don’t care about children. They don’t care about education. They don’t care about families. They don’t care about poverty. They don’t care about affordability. They don’t care about your rights and freedoms.

    All we do is have to solve problems,
    We do care about these things.
    If we show them and demonstrate we can get things done
    If we show them we care, by at the very least talking about the issue and problem, making that the forefront of the conversation…

    We will win the hearts and minds.

    Let us dive deep into the discussion of why people are committing suicide, crimes and we’ll be on a new path. TGBTG

  2. Here we go again, the sky is falling, the sky is falling and we need to take action on
    all these menacing firearms only……………….. give me a break !!

    If these left-leaning agenda fools ever want to be taken seriously, they need to stop the
    nonsense and hype, so let’s take this last tragedy at face value.

    We have a so-called transgender ” he/she/they/them ” person who, maybe a little confused
    and probably was being infused with gender-altering drugs, I’m no Doctor but maybe it
    altered this person’s rational mental ability ??

    So instead of locking up firearms, let’s start with locking up the Doctors that are treating these
    troubled souls, just follow the money, big business in this day and age.

    Liberals and agendas, if they only had a real concern for real problems, they are the first to
    jump on any ban wagon for their cause, let’s see, an inanimate object ” Gun” or a deranged
    mentally ill troubled person…… that’s what I thought !!

  3. I for one wish we had John Klar fighting for us in the house. Everything he said makes sense to me as a veteran. You can’t unlock a gun in time to defend yourself. When will they stop.

  4. Fair warning to the commies in Mountstupid; if you pass this unconstitutional law, I for one will ignore it. A locked up gun is just a rock and worthless.

    • Bingo! Ed, I’m with you. We do not have to comply with any unconstitutional laws.

      Supreme Court Decision – Norton v Shelby County 1886

      6 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 US. 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. The Supreme Court’s decision is as follows; “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.

      “All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void”.
      Marbury vs Madison, 5 US (2 Cranch) 137, 174, 176, (1803)

      Thomas Jefferson: “Whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, it’s acts are authoritative, void and of no force”.

      Alexander Hamilton explains unconstitutional law in Federalist No.76; “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”.

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