Friday, October 25, 2013

BTV City Council (Burlington leading Vermont on Gun Control)

At the Burlington City Council Meeting on Monday, Councilor Norm Blais, the driving force behind the gun control ordinance campaign in Burlington, proved what The Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs has stated from the beginning: that what Burlington was pursuing is the dismantling of  the Vermont Sportsmen's Bill of Rights.  So, that towns and cities all over Vermont will have the power to enact gun control, hunting, shooting, fishing and trapping regulations.  We would then face a patchwork of conflicting municipal ordinances.  In his speech Councilor Blais states he hopes that Burlington's action of that night starts such a state-wide attack on your rights.  Just read the last four sentences of his floor speech.   (Thanks to Chris Bradley for transcribing Councilor Blais' floor speech)
Part 2 of the recording (link to this is above), at 51:21 into the recording, Councilor Blais is given the floor:
Thank you President Shannon.  I'd like to start by commending Councilor Siegel for the excellent work that she did on all these issues.  Any suggestion that she conducted the hearings in secrecy or somehow behind closed doors is just not true.  Throughout the entire process, Councilor Siegel was open and inviting, not just to folks that may have been in agreement with our point of view, but she was also open to the gun community.  Ian Galbraith came to every one of our meetings, he is an excellent spokesman for his cause, and there was nothing about the process itself that should be called into question and I think that Councilor Siegel did an excellent job to make sure that all opinions were voiced.  So the comments I have to make now I am not going to repeat for each of the resolutions, but I think that some of the issues that have been raised need to be addressed. 
People have suggested that what we are doing is violative of State Statute and that is absolutely wrong.  What we are doing is in full harmony with what is contemplated by state statute.
If these resolutions pass this evening, in accordance with State law for any Charter Change, our voters will have to weigh in on whether or not the voters approve of what we have done.  And if the voters approve, it then goes to the legislature where the General Assembly will have an opportunity to determine if the specific Charter Change in effect trumps the general legislation with regard to gun possession and ownership.  So any suggestion that what we are doing here is illegal is just absolutely wrong.  What we are doing, in addition to being open and frank, is in full harmony with State Statute.
With regard to the claim that what we are doing is unconstitutional, that is likewise wrong.  There is not a single constitutional right that is unfettered.  There is not a single constitutional right, from the right of free speech, to the right to a jury trial, all those rights are subject to reasonable regulation by governmental entities.  And for someone to suggest this evening that what is being proposed is not reasonable regulation, I do not think is facing with the reality of what we are talking about.
For people to suggest that acting as a Municipality we want to ban firearms from bars, that is a no brainer.  And I would suggest that all of these resolutions that have been proposed will meet constitutional muster. 
If people say to us, well, if you pass these matters we are going to sue you, I welcome that opportunity.  I think that over the next few years, with the enactment of comparable legislation in communities and in states there will be wealth of litigation, I think I welcome that opportunity and I am confident that the measures that are being proposed here tonight will be seen as reasonable measures taken by a municipality to protect its citizens.
The last comment I would like to make I think relates to some matters that have been mentioned tonight that I think goes to the heart of why there is opposition to what we are doing.  The opposition, the fear, the threat is that if this passes in Burlington, god-forbid other Vermont towns might follow suit.
And that is not a fear, from my perspective that is a hope.
I hope that Burlington takes the lead in passing measures that will make our citizens safe, and I hope that once it is proven to be legal, that other communities will follow suit.
So I would, and again I will not repeat myself for each of these four measures, but I hope that fellow councilors will approve all four of the Charter Change resolutions that have been proposed.
Thank You.