New Gun Restrictions Leave Some Gun Owners Frustrated With Scott

Apr 10, 2018

Until recently passing gun control legislation in Vermont was a near impossible task and second amendment advocates are frustrated with the rapid change in the state's gun laws.

Gov. Phil Scott is set to sign a trio of sweeping gun restriction bills into law on Wednesday.

At Dattilio's Guns & Tackle in South Burlington the owners and customers say the change goes against Vermont's culture.

Vince Dattilio, whose son owns the store, is not happy with the governor.

"He's changing the laws that don't have to be changed," he said. "We've done nothing wrong, here. Whatever happened elsewhere is not our fault, they shouldn't change the laws."

Dattilios Guns and Tackle is a small shop that doubles as a gas station off of Shelburne Road in South Burlington.
Credit Liam Elder-Connors / VPR

Dattilio works in the small store that doubles as a gas station. The walls are packed with fishing lures, boxes of ammunition and hunting supplies.

Following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and a foiled plan for a similar attack at Fair Haven High School in Vermont, the issue of gun control has gained traction with the governor and lawmakers.

Scott plans a public signing Wednesday afternoon of legislation that raises the legal age for gun purchases from 18 to 21 and extends mandatory background checks to private gun sales. It also bans the sale of high-capacity magazines and bump stocks.

Two other bills make it easier to take guns from people in dangerous situations or suspected of domestic violence.

Dattilio said he wasn't expecting Scott to sign any sort of gun control measures.

"He turned turncoat and he's going to sign it," he said.

Dattilio said he would not support Scott as governor for another term.

"There are several thousand people that aren't going to support him, for sure," he said. "He doesn't deserve to be in there because he doesn't tell the truth. He speaks with a forked tongue and you can tell him, I said so right there."

Business has been up the shop is up as well, according to Dattilio. They've stocked up on high-capacity magazines, which the new legislation will ban upon Scott's signature.

Dave French, another employee at the store, hugs a stack of boxes filled with clips. He's worked at Dattilio's for 30 years and said he wasn't expecting this change from within Vermont.

"This is more personal in the state of Vermont because it's not national. So it's not a national attack by the federal government that passing the laws right now," he said. "This is a Vermont system that is trying to pass laws that have never happened here before in Vermont. Everything's been fine."

French said he doesn't think that lawmakers proposed any measures that will keep kids or schools safe.

"They're passing a law that looks good on paper. It says 'save the planet, save the children' and they'll go 'woo' and sign it and it makes them feel good. They can sleep [well] at night, that's the only thing it does - they're selfish and greedy," he said.

"This is a Vermont system that is trying to pass laws that have never happened here before in Vermont." - Dave French

Sean Peters was at the store fixing the telephone system. He thinks the problem isn't the guns - in his view, the problem is a lack of support for kids.

"They're being picked on ... being bullied. They're being ignored at home, in the home environment. So what do they do? [They think] 'Well, I'm going to be famous. I'm going to shoot 10 people and I'm going to be famous,'" he said.

Peters said banning higher-capacity magazines is just the first step and that it could eventually lead to ban on all guns, from AR-15 rifles to handguns.

"So then when all the guns go away they're going to start throwing rocks at people and tell you you can't throw rocks at people and then they're going to take all the rocks away," Peters said.

Dattilio said the store will stay true to its Vermont roots.

"If you want to be in Vermont as it used to be you come to Dattilo's because this is the United States of America right here," he said.

Dattilio and others at the shop say they're planning to show up to Montpelier Wednesday while the governor signs the bills to voice their frustration.