Firing Range Prohibits Burlington Police Over City Consideration of Gun Ban

Lamoille County facility says officers unwelcome while city pursues firearms restrictions

A Lamoille County firing range has told the Burlington Police Department its officers are unwelcome to train at the facility because the City Council has advanced a measure to ban semi-automatic rifles and large-capacity magazines in Burlington.

The City Council’s action threatens constitutional freedoms, Robert Boivin II, board chairman of the Lamoille Valley Fish and Game Club Inc., wrote in a letter to the police department, city and state leaders terminating Burlington police’s use of the Morrisville gun range.

The club’s executive board “can no longer support the City of Burlington with such a prejudice against our club and its members, and has voted to suspend the City’s use of our range for its law enforcement. This action is effective immediately,” Boivin wrote in the letter, dated Tuesday. It was provided Wednesday to the Burlington Free Press.

“We hope that the council reconsiders its actions and redirects its efforts towards perpetrators of violent crimes and security issues,” Boivin continued.

The Burlington City Council voted 10-3 earlier this month to direct its charter change committee to craft a ban on assault-type firearms and large-capacity magazines. The meeting was marked by a high turnout by the public, virtually all of whom were opposed to such a ban.

Council President Joan Shannon, D-Ward 5, has said the measure would reach voters by March 2014 at the earliest — and then would require approval by the Vermont Legislature.

The city’s exclusion from the range likely would affect how and when officers train with firearms, Burlington Police Chief Michael Schirling told the Burlington Free Press on Wednesday night.

“Training facilities are limited in the area,” Schirling said. “It’s unfortunate that a polarized discussion of this nature has this kind of impact.”

Copies of Boivin’s letter were emailed to Shannon, Schirling, Mayor Miro Weinberger, and to the offices of Gov. Peter Shumlin, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott and Vermont Speaker of the House Rep. Shap Smith, D-Morrisville.

Messages left for Weinberger and Shannon were not immediately returned Wednesday evening.

Written by
Joel Banner Baird
Burlington Free Press Staff Writer