Vermont seeks to ban paramilitary training camps

By John Klar

A new Vermont bill seeks to ban so-called paramilitary training camps.

Vermont’s 2022 elections secured a stronger-than-ever progressive supermajority in the state Legislature, and the one-party Progressives are wasting no time pushing their agenda.

The proposed bill implicates more than just gun rights; it squarely attacks the First Amendment rights of free speech and peaceful assembly.

state of Vermont

Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Baruth, D/P-Chittenden

S.3, “an act relating to banning paramilitary training camps,” targets the rights of citizens with shared interests to join together for legal militia training, an activity that by definition necessitates group gatherings. The statute’s wording attacks freedom of expression by targeting specific categories of “instruction.” The bill would exempt police and formal military training by government, as well as “an active shooter drill conducted by a Vermont school district” (which has been proven to cause trauma to young children).

Sponsored by English teacher and fiction writer Sen. Phil Baruth, the effort reflects the usual progressive disdain for basic constitutional guarantees. A previous effort in Vermont sought to close the supposed “Charleston loophole” by imposing a 30-day waiting period on gun purchases, followed by denial of purchase as default, with no right of appeal (aka “Due Process”).

S.3 is similarly deaf as to basic state and federal legal protections and sounds as if it was written by a fiction novelist who skipped researching the legal parameters of his subject. It calls for up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine for any person who owns or operates “a paramilitary training camp or facility“:

As used in this section: (1) “Paramilitary training” means instruction: (A) that is designed to prepare a person for combat through the simulation of military training and tactics; (B) that involves staged or simulated attacks on buildings, vehicles, or persons; or (C) in the use of explosives[.]

Government here is seeking to regulate specific knowledge, central to the rights of free speech and to freely assemble. It is also unconstitutionally vague: will police arrest a gun club or shooting range owner who talks about coordinated gunfire, or who uses an old junk car for target practice?  Is the teaching of gun use for hunting in groups permitted, but not for mutual self-defense?

Vermont’s Constitution (Chapter 1, Article 16) provides “[t]hat the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State[.]”  Article 20 states “[t]hat the people have a right to assemble together to consult for their common good[.]”  Baruth’s effort attacks both provisions simultaneously. When the government comes for one’s rights, it is a sign that one must heel in government — or at least rogue legislators like Baruth.

In Thomas v. Collins, the U.S. Supreme Court held that it was a prior restraint on both speech and assembly for Texas to restrict a speaker’s rights, stating:

[A]ny attempt to restrict those liberties must be justified by clear public interest, threatened not doubtfully or remotely, but by clear and present danger. … [W]hatever occasion would restrain orderly discussion and persuasion, at appropriate time and place, must have clear support in public danger, actual or impending. Only the gravest abuses, endangering paramount interests, give occasion for permissible limitation. It is therefore in our tradition to allow the widest room for discussion, the narrowest range for its restriction, particularly when this right is exercised in conjunction with peaceable assembly.

The Supreme Court also struck down efforts to enjoin KKK members from meeting. On what legal basis, then, does Baruth propose to stop peaceable Vermonters from meeting to learn how to defend themselves as a group from potential future enemies, foreign and domestic?

The right to assemble even for controversial topics has long been preserved in America:

Albert Wright’s 1883 Exposition of the Constitution of the United States observed that under the right of assembly, “any number of people may come together in any sort of societies, religious, social or political, or even in treasonous conspiracies[.]”

Much like the effort to sensationalize semi-automatic rifles as “assault weapons,” Vermont’s statute percolates fearful left-wing alarmism over ill defined “paramilitary training” that is completely protected under longstanding constitutional law.

When drafting fiction, Senator Baruth should stick to his pulp novels.

John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield. This commentary originally appeared at American Thinker.

Images courtesy of Public domain and state of Vermont

46 thoughts on “Vermont seeks to ban paramilitary training camps

  1. Isn’t the Vermont National Guard our well regulated militia? Not sure about this particular bill, but I do have questions about para-military training be it by Antifa, Proud Boys, or other extremists.

    • Isn’t the Vermont National Guard our well regulated militia?

      I a word… No!

      “Justice Scalia pointed out [in Heller] that the [2nd] amendment refers to “the right of the people.” When that language is used elsewhere in the Bill of Rights—in the First and Fourth Amendments, for example—it plainly means a right that belongs to every individual, as opposed to a collective with special properties, such as a militia.

      The idea that the Second Amendment applies only to people actively serving in a government-organized militia is based partly on a misreading of the 1939 case U.S. v. Miller.”

      This is, as they say, ‘settled law’.

      • Jay,
        I am afraid you are misunderstanding what I wrote, I am not commenting on the individual right to bear arms, but on people creating their own unregulated militia groups like Antifa or the Proud Boys which are not accountable and have caused real problems.

        It seems to be that National Guard, in which my relatives serve, are indeed well regulated miltias, where as these other are not. Again, while commenting on this particular legislation, having some regulation regarding training facitities for para-military groups might have some value.

        • “The militia, in the classic sense of the mass body of physically able adult citizens, still exists, though state attempts to “regulate” it are actuated through the National Guard nowadays. Is the larger, unorganized militia “well regulated”? Probably not if understood the way the Framers would have: as a wide body of the American people prepared to take up arms in defense of themselves and the state.”

        • In a stretch, one might make the case that the VTNG is a well regulated militia….. until, the day comes when a mobilization is ordered. You see, all the training, exercises in the F-35’s, are all to Pentagon Specs. That includes EVERYTHING in the book of training, developed by TRADOC, which is the Pentagon’s organized training HQ. It has to be this way because if a massive mobilization occurs the trained units when meeting on the battlefield for the first time have to have the same universal background to accomplish missions successfully and honorably. This means that all the support units (Medics, Mechanics), need the same instruction as well. If all of the above passes the test for militia, so be it. If not, and that would be quite possible in a full blown land war, then sorry boys, we dance to a different beat. People expect more from the Guard and Reserve than there have been funds provided for, # 1 is protection and safety of this country. Enough said.

          • James, the point is that it doesn’t matter whether or not a militia exists or is regulated or not. The 2nd amendment allows all citizens to keep and bear arms, whether they do so as individuals or they choose to congregate with others in the process. The ‘National Guard’ reference is a common misdirection put forth by gun control advocates. The Constitution allows both – a National Guard and ‘… a wide body of the American people prepared to take up arms in defense of themselves and the state.”… regulated or unregulated.

            That an armed individual or group is defined by someone as being ‘paramilitary’ is not an enumerated constitutional power. Neither is the term ‘instruction’ or ‘formal military training’. Senator Baruth’s bill (S.3) is clearly unconstitutional.

  2. Come on man, you know it’s all those wild NRA members shooting up America and Vermont! At least that’s what the left wants people to think. These implanted felons from our southern cities running poison into Vermont all carry illegal guns and use them to enforce their drug mules.

    Another point never considered is that Vermont is a border state. Trudeau in Canada is on a mission to disarm Canadians. He is also aligned with China. If China attacked Canada they would be on Vermont’s border. King Phillip and Phil Baruth (must be something in the name Phil) would have patriots defending Vermont with 10 round magazines. The 2nd amendment requires the militia (able bodied citizens) to be armed for the protection of a free state, Vermont. Article 16 of our constitution says this, “That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the State”.

    It is long past due that the governor and elected representatives, many not from Vermont, start to honor their oaths of office and recognize that the law of our country and our states are defined in our respective constitutions. As people we are not granted these rights by government, they are natural rights in which the government is to keep their hands off. The two named Phil who repeatedly try to legislate rights have no power to do so. It’s time they read and follow both of our constitutions. There is no freedom from those who wish to be rulers. In America there are no rulers, it’s WE THE PEOPLE, and they are our servants not the other way around.

    • Their commitment to usurping our Constitution makes them domestic enemies.

      Abraham Lincoln: “We the people are the rightful master of the congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who would pervert the Constitution”.

  3. Kind of makes a person wonder why all those hunters, sportsmen and gun owners in Vermont vote for the Dims? Article 16 of the Vermont Constitution says, “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”.

    The 2nd Amendment US Constitution says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    Article 22 of the Vermont Constitution says, ““That an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means.”

    Note the language in Article 22, “shall not be denied or infringed”.
    Seems our legislators understand the meaning of “shall not be infringed” when it involves their ideology and they ignore the US constitution that says exactly the same thing. These people can not be trusted with our freedom. Look how long it is taking to prosecute the only Vermont case of violating the magazine capacity law. It’s in it’s second year and since the charges were brought, the supreme court has changed what the courts can consider related to the historical facts surrounding the 2nd Amendment. Magazine laws are unconstitutional as is banning 18 year olds from being banned from enjoying rights guaranteed to them. Other proposals by the delusional senator are already illegal. If your wish to be ruled by these people you will forfeit your freedom. All of these laws will be overturned by the supreme court.

    • It says: Note the language in Article 22, “shall not be denied or infringed…. UNLESS….”.

      Big difference.

      • Yes, that was my intention but forgot to say that no right is implied in article 22 as long as the state has a compelling interest which no one knows until they announce what that interest is. Just a word salad to make believe there’s some kind of right bestowed to the peasants by government until they intervene which is no right at all as long as the government can affirm or deny the so called right.

      • In 1776, you would have been a British Loyalist. That didn’t turn out so well for them!
        Read the federalist papers, read some history, you are a defeatist and seriously uninformed.

        • This is not 1776. We are not threatened with depredations by Indian savages nor by government troops billeting themselves in our houses.

          We are intelligent people who keep society running by participating in the dross of unpaid public service committee work, by using our income to support the programs that sustain the work necessary to keep society functioning (taxes, to you) and by damping the ardor of those who think everything will be solved by equipping everybody with a gun.

          • That’s what the 100 million people killed in the 20th century by their own government thought. When a bad man shows up with a gun or other device to do harm at your house or business, you can explain to them what you’re professing here. I’m sure they’ll just leave you alone. You don’t get to determine anything about what anyone else might need or want for their protection. What would you do if you were living in the Ukraine right now other than wave a white flag? You are obviously beyond the comprehension of anything other than what you think even if the history of the world is not on your side of thought. Can you guarantee that America will not be invaded? Have you any idea that over 5 million military aged men have crossed the southern border? This is a violent world and you are very naive. No one is making you get a gun, live in your own reality and I’ll live in mine. Regardless of how intelligent you may think you are, the world is still survival of the fittest and those who prepare for the worst and pray for the best are the people who insure people like you might have a chance.

          • Were in a far worse spot NOW than they were in 1776..

            The need for a gun behind every blade of grass is not exactly the signs of a confident people- wouldn’t you say?

            I mean what planet do you live on?
            We’re in the fallout of a fake pandemic, we’re being invaded.
            We’ve got a drug crisis, a crime crisis, people are dropping dead now everywhere. We’re moving into an infertility crisis.. there is a food shortage and affordability crisis. People are freezing and can’t afford to gas up their vehicles.
            Society as we’ve know it is completely collapsing and we are seeing some of the worst messes this nation has ever endured- and you say that?
            The labor shortage is largely because people are so disgusted they don’t even see the value of work anymore and they are refusing to participate in it all.
            Taxation Is Theft.
            Again, THIS is why everyone IS Equipping themselves with guns..
            Do you not understand cause and effect at all cgregory?

      • “Well regulated” at the time the words were used in the Second Amendment, meant : well equipped in, good working order.

  4. The U.S.Constitution means nothing to the fools that are in control of Vermont. The liberal/progs are a bunch of emotional sissies who think their emotions should dictate the laws of the land. “I don’t like guns, they make me frightened, so no one should be allowed to own them or practice with them”. Right. They are pathetic sheeple who march to the order of the globalists.

  5. More Vermonters will just go to training in New Hampshire. its still part of the United States, and not the USSR of Vermont. — Next these commies will want all Vt veterans registered so they can be more easily watched by the commies.

  6. And of course, the police are exempt.

    Heinrich Himmler: “Germans who wish to use firearms should join the SS or SA, ordinary citizens do not need guns, as their having guns doesn’t serve the state”.

    I saw a movie where only the military and police had guns. It was called Schindler’s List.

  7. Yes, it’s very important to have paramilitary training camps to help spawn “well-regulated militias.” A next step in the Iraqization of democracy. Now that the US has more guns than people, it needs to take this next step.

    Iraqis under Saddam Hussein were permitted one AK-47 per household. Besides the army, Iraq had two “well-regulated militias,” one Sunni, one Shia. As soon as they were given their freedom, they went at each other’s throat, so to speak.

    We need our own gun owners organized so that when freedom comes, they will do their part. Where do I sign up?

    • Comparing the US constitution to an Iraqi militia under the thumb of a dictator is exactly what the 2nd amendment was designed to be able to prevent. A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. King George would be proud of senator Baruth for not allowing Americans military training. There are numerous militias across the USA today. There are thousands of veterans already trained by the US military, so what’s your point? If America is invaded you can be the first to surrender, the rest of us who love America will exercise our rights to gather, train and defend the country while the senator hides behind his unconstitutional laws.

      • The point is, those militias will shoot up whatever they define as a threat to their liberties, much as the Georgia militia determined the Cherokee nation was a threat to theirs or a Michigan militia decided Governor Gretchen Whitmer was a threat to theirs.

        The only thing that kept the Iraqi militias “well-regulated” was Hussein’s homicidal governance. Once we removed that, the can of worms was opened. We are going to see a lot of armed and angry idiots wiping out targets at will– and probably most of them will be non-white.

          • Only insofar as it tried and failed to remove the Cherokee without help from the US Army. As with militias from the very beginning of the American Revolution, it was as inept as any other. Professional military men despaired at the quality of almost every militia that showed up. Read Kenneth Roberts’ “Rabble in Arms” ir Ferabncibne DuPlessix Gray’s “Lock and Load” to get an idea.

  8. Immensely respected by law enforcement, military, laymen and women, the nationally and world famous educational Gunsite Academy in Arizona would be placed into this category if it resided here in Vermont.The annual class 3 shoot at Camp David in Eden by the Greem Mountain Boys Shooting Club would be banned. Any course involving firearms that is open to the public and not ” hunter safety” would be banned. Please define ” paramilitary” without using the term citizen. The ability to properly train in the safe defensive and offensive use of firearms by their owners makes everyone safer.
    I do have great empathy for the people of West Pawlet that have been subject to an unsanctioned business in their community. The lack of the Courts and Boards enforcement of their own policy, ordinances and law is really at issue here. The surrounding landowners and Town have done everything in their power to prod the inept legal system to be active in enforcing their rights.

  9. The reason they are doing is this is because they are afraid. “A well-regulated militia” is a threat to their power. They know what they are doing is unconstitutional but because they are communists they don’t care. They are trying to erase not only our history but also our heritage. Under our Constitution we have the right to form militias. All of these unconstitutional laws must be met with civil disobedience. DO NOT OBEY. DO NOT COMPLY.

    1774 – British General Gage takes over as governor of the Massachusetts colony and 36 Tories are appointed to the Massachusetts council by King George III

    Gage restricts the distribution of gunpowder and has 300 barrels of gunpowder seized. Gage realizing, he is outnumbered restricts powder & shot trying to use “ammo control” to disarm the people. Guns, powder and shot were however considered private property.

    On October 17th Gage is ordered to confiscate arms especially long guns but knows this is not practicable and as the colonies get wind of what is happening in Massachusetts start arming themselves.

    King George III bans the importation of guns to the colonies also the importation of gunpowder, saltpeter and lead.

    1775 – On April 16th the Battle of Lexington & Concord takes place and the British start seizing arms in earnest. Women are hiding guns and children are making cartridges.

    April 17th Gage starts to disarm Boston and on June 17th Gage proclaims that anyone in Boston who has not turned their arms are to be considered enemies of his majesty. On July 6th in Virginia Jefferson and Dickenson draw up the Declaration of Causes of Taking Up Arms and militias start to form.

    On May 10th Ethan Allen captures the British Fort Ticonderoga. September 16th the New York Provincial Congress orders the seizure of arms with the promise to be compensated.
    for them. (The First Buy Back?) Bills of Attainder’s or legislative trials are held without the ability to rebut the charges.

    1776 – In April the British order the Repression of Pamphlets (Thought Crime) and firearms and other properties are seized and forfeited.

    July 4th The Colonies Declare their independence.

    1791 – The Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment — “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” gains final ratification.

    Donald L. Cline: A free citizenry does not ask its governments’ permission to exercise a right. It does not register its exercise of a right. It does not waive any other right, such as the right to privacy, or the right to due process, or the right to be secure from being compelled to waive a right in order to exercise a right, in exchange for permission to exercise a right such as the right to keep and bear arms which government does not have the authority to issue or deny in the first place. It does not permit government to claim the exercise of a right is probable cause, or prima facie evidence, or even a suspicion, of a crime having been committed. It does not discuss, or negotiate, what rights it will or will not exercise with government or with any government functionary. In short, a free citizenry, founded in principles of liberty, does not give up its right to determine what kind of government receives its Consent to Govern. A free citizenry respects, honors, and protects the lawful rights of others, by force of arms if necessary, else liberty cannot be preserved for anyone.

  10. baruth needs to be deported back to which ever flatland he came from.
    He’s showing himself to be so anti Constitution we might have to ship him to Cuba where all good commies need to go. Shall Not Infringe phillis Shall Not Infringe. Since your a brain dead prof it means the gooberment which is you you flatlander slug…

  11. So it appears they’d rather have untrained paramilitary groups.
    Very interesting- coming out of people that think they are so smart.

  12. I think I have read somewhere about a “well-regulated militia “, Oh yeah it’s in our
    Constitution, apparently our legislators, like the ” Pro Tem” Baruth skipped over that
    part, Baruths a power-hungry liberal fool !!

    Another flatlander, showing Vermonter’s just how stupid he thinks you are, Sieg Heil
    Phil………………… wake up Vermont, before it’s too late.

  13. Basically, VT is already run by a “Para” group….there may be “para-military ” type folks…but there certainly are “Para-Progressive” people…because “Para-Progressives” rule & own VT… group (military types) might call it “warfare” training…..But “Para-Progressives” can be just as intense and nasty…. They excel at ‘Law-Fare” (which bascially is WAR)…So if it is time to regulate the “para-military”….I think a bill has to be entered in Legislature to regulate “Para-Progressive-LawFare” as well…and that should include the destructive “CLF Para-Lawfare”.

    • Good point Jeffrey Green, clearly they are trying to take out the competition- using Lawfare- which is their weapon of choice.

    • Have you read the law Mr. Baruth is sponsoring? I suggest that if you do so, ‘your view on this matter might change’ as well.

  14. There appears to a theme behind much of what our elected folks are doing. Their image management casts them as an enlightened (read, schooled thus done thinking) elite whose address to us constituents is “we don’t need no stinkin consensus” hold still, this is good for you, you’re gona like it.

  15. Clearly it is unconstitutional and, if it becomes law, will be overturned by the supreme court. Those liberal legislators are not smart enough to be considered morons.

    • Article 7 of the Vermont Constitution gives the people the authority to change the government. With this authority, we meet to redesign our Constitutional Commonwealth. FYI: the document that is offered on the State of Vermont government website is NOT our lawful constitution. In 1870, the Council of Censors–a watchdog group–was abolished and by 1913, our state constitution was set aside and replaced with a document created by corrupt officials; a private commercial corporate charter; our lawful state of Vermont Government was overthrown.

  16. This bill appears to prohibit anyone, on any private property in Vermont, from practicing archery, or using rifles, shotguns, or pistols, or skeet and trap shooting, using black powder in any way, or any other similar sport shooting. 10 V.S.A. § 5227.

    You can own them. But you can’t use them.

    • Re: “… the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” makes a distinction between ‘keeping’ (owning or having) a weapon, and bearing (using) a weapon.

      Keeping clearly means possessing.
      Bearing clearly means using.

      And neither right shall be infringed.

      • Hi Jay,

        The Supreme Court in NY (of all places) is ruling lately in favor of “Shall Not Be Infringed” as NY Democrats, like VT Democrats attempt to disarm the people through what is really Incrementalism.

        I’ve seen two such rulings recently- so how does this man think this will fly in Vermont?
        (Perhaps this is exactly why he’s doing this)

    • Good luck with that – the Sheriff’s and State Police are severely undermanned, we’ve all seen how well cutting the Burlington PD budget has worked out. We have growing gang presence, increasing drug houses in rural communities, increased outlaw MC presence, and LE using antiquated equipment.
      Who’s going to have time to enforce any of this when we just ignore it?

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