On March 4, voters in Burlington, Vermont passed three new ordinances that have gun owners up in arms, no pun intended. The first gives police the authorization to seize a firearm from anyone involved in a domestic dispute involving abuse. The second makes it illegal to carry a firearm into a bar or restaurant that has a permit to sell alcoholic beverages. The third requires all gun owners to keep their guns locked up in a safe when not in their immediate possession.
Why is this a problem, especially since the voters approved these ordinances? After all, these didn’t just pass with a simple majority of only a few votes; they passed by an overwhelming majority. All three of them. The problem is that all three of them contravene Vermont State Law, which prohibits towns or cities from regulating guns. The State of Vermont reserves that right to itself.
If someone has been abusing his or her spouse and has threatened them with a gun, then the gun should be confiscated by all means, and they should be arrested and charged appropriately.
Where I have a bit more trepidation is the banning of firearms from an establishment serving alcohol. Most restaurants except fast food places serve alcoholic drinks, so that limits the choices of where to eat. That’s one point, but it’s not the point, though. What really matters, is why is the government telling anyone where they are permitted to go when they’re carrying a gun? More of the nanny state policies? It’s a sad truth that over the last, oh, say sixty years or so we’ve slowly become accustomed to this and think nothing of it. If I owned a place of business, even one that served drinks, I would welcome gun owners. I’d feel a lot safer with law-abiding citizens carrying guns than to have none at all permitted in my place.
Then there’s the newly passed ordinance requiring the lockup of guns not in someone’s immediate possession. Not only is Burlington ignoring state law, they’re also ignoring common sense. Even under the best of circumstances, the response time for a 911 call is several minutes, which is an eternity when something is seriously wrong and you’re in a dangerous situation. You don’t have the luxury of time to wait for the police to arrive, and an attacker certainly isn’t going to wait. When you need a gun and you need it fast, you don’t want to be fumbling around with a key or safe combination in order to retrieve it – you’ll be worried, possibly scared out of your mind, and your hands may even be shaking. It will take you longer to get into wherever your gun is…if you manage to get it before it’s too late. Not quite as simple as opening a drawer, is it?
Firearms owners are probably the most sensible people you will ever meet in your life. They know all about the responsibility of gun ownership, what the consequences of irresponsible or reckless discharge of them will be, and they have what is lacking in much of modern (or should I say postmodern) society: a conscience. I know many gun owners, and each of them would do anything within their power to avoid a situation where they actually needed to use that gun. Also, without exception, each of them will use it if there is no other choice. They know the inherent dangers of waiting for a police response. Not that the police wouldn’t be there instantly if they could, but they just can’t, and they know it. Yes, I know it’s their job not only to find and arrest people who have already committed crimes, but also to prevent crime where possible. That’s why a strong police presence is so important, but when an emergency call requesting the police comes in from someone who’s in serious danger, there’s little or nothing they can do in the three to twenty minutes or so until they arrive. By then, unfortunately, all that’s left for them is the crime scene and a victim that’s dead, injured, or at best terribly traumatized by what just happened.
Needless to say, the Gun Owners of Vermont and the National Rifle Association have gotten involved, but perhaps more telling is the involvement of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, which is urging Vermont law enforcement officers to refuse to enforce these ordinances. And to my mind, they should. It’s already being done in some locations; in Connecticut thousands of gun owners are refusing to comply with a recently passed law that orders them to register certain types of firearms and high-capacity magazines. From all reports I’ve read, many police officers in Connecticut are refusing to enforce those laws, too. Sheriffs in Colorado aren’t enforcing a new background check law and ban on certain magazines. More and more police and sheriff’s departments around the country are refusing to enforce onerous new gun laws, and I applaud them for it.
One other thing, just in case you think I forgot. The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land, and the 2nd Amendment of that very Constitution says that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Doesn’t that sum it up nicely for you? It does for me.