Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Vermonters want stronger gun laws

WCAX, channel 3, in Burlington, Vermont recently conducted a phone survey of randomly called, likely voters. They asked one simple question: Would you favor or oppose the state passing new legislation to restrict sale or ownership of guns?
The answer was a resounding “yes!” By a more than 3 to 2 margin (57 percent in favor, 35 percent opposed, 8 percent not sure) Vermonters expressed their desire for stronger gun laws.
The report (which aired on February 28th) sought reaction to this poll from a number of people. A member of Gun Owners of Vermont said that, given the decline in hunting over the years, she was not surprised by the response. She added, “I’m sure over time Vermont’s legislation will reflect the will of the people which may well change as it does.” The spokesperson for New England Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence (thank you Eliot Nelson!) noted that “this poll reflects that there is reasonable ground for legislative efforts.”
It comes as no surprise that, even in Vermont, people see the need for stronger gun laws. Vermont has seen a recent rise in gun violence (four drug-related gun incidents, including a homicide, in Rutland over the past three months). And across the nation we continue to see mass shooting after mass shooting. (Just this week, a gunman opened fired at a Wendy’s restaurant in Florida, killing one and wounding five others before turning the gun on himself. In Memphis, four adults and two children are shot and killed and three other children wounded in a killing that has left police with no suspects and no motive.)
Americans understand that this country needs stronger gun laws. So why is this so difficult for elected officials to understand?
WCAX also interviewed the State Senate head of the Judiciary Committee and the Vermont governor. Both express surprise over the poll results. Both denied the need for stronger gun laws. And, just like all the presidential candidates, they expressed their support for the 2nd Amendment. (does the 2nd Amendment mean no gun laws??)
If the people want stronger gun laws why are our elected officials so opposed? Because they believe the propaganda of the gun lobby, they believe that voting for stronger gun laws means voting to end their political careers. The majority of calls, emails, and letters to legislators come from gun rights people. This has to change. Take a moment, find your legislator, and let them know that gun violence prevention is important to you. Tell them it is time to work for stronger gun laws.