Eric here a day late with your weekly updates. Fair warning, there is a lot to cover so it’s going to be long and I’m actually going to split it into 2 parts.
As everyone has probably heard by now, both bills seeing action this year, H.133 and S.30 were advanced last week. H.133 was passed out of House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 7-4 and subsequently passed the House floor by a vote of 101-41. Those who have kept their arithmetic skills sharp since high school will note that this is more than enough votes to achieve the 2/3 majority needed for an override on the (incredibly) slim chance that Governor Scott might actually veto this bill.
In Senate Judiciary Bill S.30 -which looked to be a sure wall-hanger a couple weeks ago- was resurrected and passed out of committee on a 3-1-1 vote after Senator Baruth effectively bullied Alice Nitka into voting for a bill which she “had serious concerns with.” Regardless, it now heads to the Senate floor where it will almost certainly pass with flying colors and then repeat the process in the House.
Anyone who has been following gun legislation in VT for any amount of time knows that we live and die in committee. The larger legislative bodies are riddled with enough anti-gun legislators that it is hard to get a lid on these bad ideas once they come out of the smaller and more deliberative groups. Historically, the Senate Judiciary (with the exception of Phil Baruth) has always been very considerate and objective when hearing our concerns with anti-gun legislation, however this seems to no longer be the case.
Multiple times throughout the hearings we heard lawmakers express out loud their lack of concern for the implications of constitutional rights in these scenarios. Emboldened by the recent (horrendous) Vermont Supreme Court decision, there seems to be the growing sensation among legislators that due process and the right to keep and bear arms are more like “suggestions” to be manipulated as they see fit as long as it is done in the name of “keeping the public safe.”
After a bill passes a floor vote in its chamber of origin, it heads to the other chamber where it must repeat the process of passing thru the judiciary committee and subsequent floor vote before it heads to the governor’s desk. Now, this is where it gets ugly. A bill can be amended any time during the process in committee -or worse- on the floor where it might be voted on right there without hearing outside testimony. Those who were around during S.55 remember how the bill left the Senate and was “Christmas treed” in the House where then Speaker Johnson rammed thru the amendments without a hearing.
I’m not going to sugar coat it for you guys, at this point it looks like we are along for the ride. Everyone in here knows that this is just another link in the chain and that no amount of gun control will EVER satisfy the Phil Baruths and Martin LaLondes. The problem is that in a largely blue state where the agenda on gun control has driven the narrative in recent years, these bills are seen as favorable (or at least nothing to get worked up over) by most casual observers. In their current form, S.30 and H.133 will very likely pass into law this session without much resistance.
So, at this point you probably have some questions. Like: “What the f***?! I mean, what the f***ing f***, right?!?! I call and email my reps and they just ignore me and do what they want?!?!”
Well, kind of. There is an old saying that you can only control what you can control and there are certain things right now which are beyond our control. The next step in our process is to “zoom out” so to speak and take a long hard look at what we have to do to change the conversation and the politics around gun rights in Vermont and do so without compromising our principles if we want to change the direction this state is heading.
Check back tomorrow for Part 2: What You Can Do About It.
President, Gun Owners of Vermont
PS: There has been a bit of “discussion” in the group as of late about why GoVT takes such a hardline stance on every gun bill that comes along. Some have expressed concern that by us opposing these bills we might be alienating some of the more “progressive” voters from different areas who, for whatever reason, have found themselves making a purchase at a gun shop for the first time this year.
The first thing I always point out when this subject comes up, is that gun rights are not a partisan issue and GoVT is a non-partisan organization. We firmly believe that the right to keep and bear arms is a human right which exists independently from government and is not up for discussion as was the general consensus when the bill of rights was written. (For more on this, see Stephen P. Halbrook’s “That Every Man Be Armed” available on Amazon for $13.99.)