Sea of orange floods Statehouse for gun bill public hearing

Michael Bielawski/TNR

GUNS: Orange vests and hats are worn by Second Amendment supporters who met at the Statehouse to tell lawmakers they don’t want new gun restrictions for Vermont.

MONTPELIER — The red House chamber of the Statehouse turned orange Tuesday evening as gun rights activists by the hundreds filled the room to speak out for Second Amendment rights.

The gun rights public hearing comes as a trio of new gun control bills has emerged for another legislative session.

At least a dozen voices in favor of stricter gun control were scattered in between, as both sides of the gun control debate got ample representation at the microphone.

Three bills up for consideration this session include S.6 for universal background checks, H.422 for confiscation of firearms during a domestic violence incident, and S.221 for gun violence prevention orders.

On the pro-gun side, many speakers said the gun restrictions have been introduced before, and failed for a reason.

“I guess some folks didn’t learn last time that no means no,” said Eddie Garcia of the Vermont Citizens Defense League. “Look around you at all that orange — everywhere you see that, that’s a person who does not consent to, and probably feels violated by, yet another attack on their rights.”

Garcia emphasized Vermont’s 200-plus years of firearm-owning tradition, which is based on Article 16 of the Vermont Constitution, which says “the people have the right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the state.”

William Robinson, regional coordinator for Gun Owners of Vermont in Washington County, shared his own story about how having a gun prevented an assault at his home.

“Guns in the hands of responsible ordinary citizens do more to deter violence then gun-free zones ever could,” he said.

About a year ago, Robinson, recounted, an irate tenant attacked his front door with a claw hammer. As he held the door shut, he called 911 and told the operator he was armed and ready to defend himself.

“When my tenant heard me say this to the operator, she immediately stepped away from the door and just started sobbing,” he said. “Even in her unbalanced mental state, she realized that by my being armed, I wasn’t going to allow her to harm me.”

On the pro-gun restriction side, Anne Herz, of Woodstock, shared the story of her son’s murder in 1991.

“He befriended a young woman whose ex-boyfriend had a long history of mental instability and violent behavior,” she said. “And on May the 8th, 1991, that ex-boyfriend hitchhiked to [the] house, shot and killed him, shot and killed his dog, shot two other people, and then took his own life.”

Elizabeth Deutsch, a gun owner from Hinesburg, said she was surprised by what she described as a lack of screening for her ability to safely use a gun when she purchased it.

“I think how we treat guns versus another weapon, the automobile, is an apt comparison,” she said. “In order to legally drive a car, I have to prove that I’ve met minimum standards of proficiency. I have to pass a test and show an expert that I was able to drive safely.

“My car has to be inspected and insured. I have to follow laws and there are limits to what is acceptable use.”

One gun-rights supporter, Eric Bailey of Essex Junction, made the case that any politician supporting gun control in Vermont is committing political suicide.

“Some politicians you just can’t reach,” he said. “In 1990 Peter Smith was favored heavily to beat Bernie Sanders for the open U.S. House seat. Then he spoke out against gun freedom, he paid for it with his career. He’s gone, and we’re still here.”

He went over a handful of elections since then where the gun control candidate fell from political power, including last year’s gubernatorial election.

“In 2016 Sue Minter ran against a Republican in the most liberal state in the nation, which on the same day voted Democrat 2-to-1 for president, but she made gun control her top priority. She was soundly defeated, she is gone, and we are still here.”

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

7 thoughts on “Sea of orange floods Statehouse for gun bill public hearing

  1. Think I’m off base on the Constitutionally of these proposed violations of the US Constitution and Vermont’s Constitution,I offer this.

    Bennington County Sen. Dick Sears, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, shares Fryman’s concerns. Sears says he worries the legislation passed by House lawmakers last year might be vulnerable to a constitutional challenge, and has offered up a separate bill that would allow temporary seizure of firearms only after a judge has granted the order.

    Lawmakers have received conflicting testimony on the constitutionality of the proposed measure: Commissioner of Public Safety Thomas Anderson said last year “there may be some constitutional concerns with the bill; the attorney general’s office testified that lawmakers were likely on safe legal ground.

  2. Excellent! One and all marched up to the statehouse and put on the dog and pony show for the Poobahs in the seats. Now tell me where were your kids? What wee they doing during this display of unity. What are they being taught by the school boards paid for by your tax dollars ON WHICH YOU DON’T SIT. Or how about those seats in the Legislature for which YOU DON’T RUN.

    You let your Proggy neighbors run for office then bitch about what they do when they sit up there. It’s your Proggy neighbors who are teaching your kids that guns are bad and making the USA, Mexico North is the new normal.

    They all ready changed the Vermont tree from the maple to an aluminum strut.

  3. I hope the gun rights activists, a.k.a. defenders of their constitutional rights, show up at the polls in November and vote Republican across the board to effect a clean sweep of the house and senate Shumlin holdovers

    • This is the irony….the gun rights advocates (I am one) defeated Peter Smith and now we are stuck with Bernie. Good going. They keep voting for Democrats…..”the meaning of insanity”.

  4. I attended this meeting, there was a sea of “ORANGE” in protest of these three bills. It’s Great as these are the same three bill ( New Wording ) used over the past three iteration and are not needed .

    I have to agree, there is nothing in these bills that cannot be handled by the current gun laws already on the books, if the current laws are enforced !! Along with these bills are probable on the edge of being unconstitutional !!!

    The supporters of Bill H.422 had some good speakers, there stories are horrific, but with that being said, I still don’t believe this law would have stopped these tragedies .

    All these stories had the same problem, the perpetrators in all these scenarios had prior contact with law enforcement or some other agency but were allowed to be free, why ??

    We all know an order of protection isn’t worth the paper it’s written on, these people will do what ever it take ( Not Just Guns ) they are evil and will do evil. In Burlington we have had people use a baseball bat , meat cleaver there evil and need to be locked up !!

    The laws pertaining to domestic violence (H.422) need to be enhanced, this is where legislation needs to happen ( Assault & Battery ) up the ante, not these feel good bills that are penalizing Law Abiding Citizens,there not the problem !

  5. If the legislature voted in favor of the said bills they would be in violation of the 2 nd,10 th. and 14 th, Amendments of the US Constitution not to mention Article 16 of the Vermont state constitution.

    They may want to consider the debacle Washington state is experiencing with their I 594 UBC law and the cost to the state for the Federal NICS.

    ”A handful of elections since then where the gun control candidate fell from political power,Smith,Kroger,Waite – Simpson,Minter are a few,they are gone and we are still here.” I would like to see more of the current representatives added to the list,perhaps they care to weight that consideration.

  6. Vermont gun owners! You better start electing Republicans in your state or you are going to lose ALL your gun rights. Look at what has happened in Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, California, Maryland and New Jersey………….all Democratic states where gun rights are now GONE. Wise up and throw the Democrats out of office or you are going to regret it.

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