It’s barely four months since the Las Vegas massacre, and already it’s all but forgotten. Now comes the Florida high school mass shooting and we must take steps to ensure it doesn’t become equally transitory.
Lawmakers can no longer afford to ignore these deadly incidents, and I’m hopeful that the conversations taking place in this session of the Vermont legislature will begin to establish real understanding – and eventual consensus - between those who passionately defend their second amendment rights and those who feel ever-more-urgently the need to curb escalating gun violence.
For example, some observers were mystified to learn that the Las Vegas killer had two or three thousand rounds of ammunition and multiple firearms in his house. But just a day of target shooting can easily consume hundreds of rounds. To save money avid target shooters buy their ammunition in bulk - hundreds of rounds at a time. Most gun sport enthusiasts also own multiple firearms, just as golf enthusiasts own dozens of golf clubs – since each one serves a special purpose.
So it’s easy to see why shooting sportsmen would resist attempts to restrict multiple gun ownership or the ability to purchase ammunition in bulk.
But in the words of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the IACP, “gun violence impacts communities across the U.S. on a daily basis… violence committed with firearms universally challenges law enforcement, taxes resources… and requires a dedicated response from citizens, elected leaders, lawmakers, and the entire criminal justice system.”
The IACP is an organization that counts as its members the leadership of virtually all the city police departments in the country. And it’s made other recommendations worth considering that include banning armor piercing bullets and assault weapons, establishing a federal firearms offender registry similar to the sexual offender registry, closing the Gun show loophole, and more rigorously enforcing existing firearms laws by governments at all levels.
We have a long tradition of owning and using firearms here – and we’ve established traditions of polite debate, common sense, and compromise - which is why I’d like to see Governor Scott take on the Leadership challenge of finding ways to curb gun violence without eviscerating the second amendment.
A courageous conversation, to be sure, but one that clearly must begin somewhere, and I’d like to see Vermont lead the way.