Friday, October 11, 2013

Federation Advisory Notice to the City of Burlington

PO Box 225, Lyndonville, VT 05851
To:          Miro Weinberger, Mayor - City of Burlington
                All Personnel in City Attorney's Office, City of Burlington
                All City Council Members, City of Burlington
                City Management Personnel, City of Burlington
                William Ellis Esq., McNeil, Leddy & Sheahan
Date:     October 11th, 2013
RE:          Notice to the City of Burlington
Mr. Rusten,
The Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs notes that the Burlington Free Press has reported that the Charter Change Committee of the Burlington City Council has retained a five issue agenda for which the city does not have the authority to enact per VSA 24 § 2295, the law commonly called the Vermont Sportsmen's Bill of Rights.  A specific review of the last sentence of said section is quite revealing:  "The provisions of this section shall supersede any inconsistent provisions of a municipal charter."
In addition, this reported agenda has issues involving banning or requiring a permit to regulate the carrying of firearms.  These regulations would be in conflict with the Vermont Supreme Court decision in the case of State v. Rosenthal.  Said case being "on point" with regard to those ordinances the city seeks to enact.
There are those who would argue that the rights of Article 16 of the Vermont Constitution are not unlimited per State v. Duranleau(1969).  Against this, we note that this case upheld VSA 10 § 4705(b), a statue that bars possessing a loaded rifle and shotgun in a motorized vehicle within the right of way of a public highway.  Title 10 laws however are fish and wildlife laws.  The statute was enacted to deter the illegal taking of wildlife by shooting from a vehicle and the statute specifically exempted loaded handguns, clearly so as to allow having a loaded firearm for personal defense.
There is more than sufficient legal precedent and statutory authority on this subject for the city to know that the city is undertaking an action that the ordinance authority it seeks is beyond its legal reach.  Therefore, the Federation urges the city to reconsider its publicly announced proposed course of action. 

If the city does continue forward with the agenda as what was reported in the Burlington Free Press article of Wednesday October 9th, we suggest the city closely review its liability coverage with its insurance carriers. 
Evan Hughes
VP – Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, Inc.