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VT Gun Laws: Can Vermont Towns and Cities Make Local Rules?

By Josh Katzowitz   |   Monday, 30 Mar 2015 05:04 PM

Vermont's gun laws are some of the most lenient in the country, and the vast majority of its citizens and its visitors can carry a gun (out in the open or concealed) without a permit. But can Vermont's towns and cities make their own local rules regarding firearms?

It's not an easy task.

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According to the state, no town, city or incorporated village can directly regulate "the possession, ownership, transportation, transfer, sale, purchase, carrying, licensing or registration of traps, firearms, ammunition or components of firearms or ammunition." But in another state statute, Vermont allows its towns, cities and incorporated villages "to regulate or prohibit the use or discharge, but not possession of, firearms within the municipality or specified portions thereof."

Some cities have certainly tried to bring change, but because the state is traditionally so pro-gun — particularly because of its long-lasting culture of hunting — it's difficult to convince voters to approve any kind of gun-control measure.

And because the FBI ranks Vermont as the safest state in the country —  statistics from Vermont show that 115 violent crimes are committed per 100,000 people, while the national rate is 368 violent crimes per 100,000 people — it's also difficult to convince its residents that anything really needs to change.

Still, some towns and cities have attempted to establish their own local ordinances.

For example, a few weeks after the Sandy Hook shooting in 2013, the Burlington City Council proposed an amendment to the city charter that would ban semi-automatic assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.

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"To those people who say we don't need this legislation in Burlington because nothing like this has ever happened here before, well, the people of Newtown, Conn. could have said that before Dec. 15th," said city council member Norm Blais, according to WCAX.

But an intense crowd packed City Hall that night, and resident Matt Storer responded by saying, "I think it's a dangerous course to let emotions get into the driver's seat when writing legislation that could potentially infringe on constitutional rights."

The amendment passed 10-3. One local firing range responded by forbidding Burlington police officers from training at its facility, and eventually, the city council gave up on that idea.

In July 2014, the City of Colchester proposed a plan that would regulate where sportsmen could hunt. Not surprisingly, there was a backlash, and eventually, the plan was tabled.

But in 2014, Burlington voters passed three resolutions that allowed police offers to take weapons from domestic violence suspects, banned firearms from any establishment with a liquor license, and required gun owners to safely store their firearms. In order to become law, it still needs to be approved by the Vermont state legislature.

Like other gun-control laws, it won't be an easy fight for the supporters of such a law — even though it's only for city rather, than the entire state.

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Vermont's gun laws are some of the most lenient in the country, and the vast majority of its citizens and its visitors can carry a gun (out in the open or concealed) without a permit. But can Vermont's towns and cities make their own local rules regarding firearms?
VT, gun laws, local, rules
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2015-04-30
 

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