The Statehouse in Montpelier remains shuddered under the continued protocols of COVID, however the business of the Legislature forges ahead on the Internet tomorrow morning. On Wednesday at 9:00 a.m., the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a "public hearing" on Zoom/YouTube. In a normal year, an entire cadre of orange-clad Second Amendment supporters would have ventured to Montpelier to testify against the latest iteration of gun control. This year, in lieu of an in-person hearing in the House chambers, various groups and their representatives will present their cases to lawmakers on the panel electronically.
The bill under consideration is S.30, which bans firearms in public buildings, hospitals, and day care centers. For weeks, the committee has heard testimony on these bills. Overwhelmingly, we have heard that this bill is unnecessary. Vermont is one of the safest states in the country, and for decades, its gun laws served as an example for the rest of the country. Vermont was the first permitless carry state. Vermont remains a safe place to live and work, and nothing has changed in that regard. What has changed is the makeup of the Legislature, which is growing more averse to the Second Amendment.
S.30 is not only unnecessary, but it will create more problems than it will solve. Under the legislation, there is no consideration of criminal intent. Anyone who unknowingly has a firearm in one of these "gun free zones" would face criminal prosecution. For example, the hunter who goes out hunting before work, locks his shotgun in the trunk and parks in the wrong place could now be prosecuted. What about the person who rushes mom or dad to the hospital for emergency treatment and has a firearm either on their person or in the car? And, if you are using a neighbor for day care in their private home, you may have now run afoul of the law. There are many different scenarios where law-abiding gun owners could be ensnared by this bill. It does nothing to enhance public safety. The bill's lack of a requirement to prove criminal intent is dangerous to those who routinely exercise their constitutional rights.
Instead of debating another solution in search of a problem, officials should look at using existing law to punish true lawbreakers instead of setting traps and pitfalls for the law-abiding citizen. Criminal trespass laws already exist, and again, after weeks of testimony, there has been no evidence of a problem in Vermont's hospitals, day care centers or public buildings.
Scheduled to testify on S.30 are a host of groups, in addition to our NRA-ILA State Director, the NRA state association, and the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs. For those wishing to watch the hearing online, please follow the link: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/streaming/senate-judiciary
Please follow NRA-ILA alerts, as we will continue to keep members informed of any public hearing notices and votes as they are scheduled.