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CLARENDON, Vt. (WCAX) Some Vermont towns have a message for lawmakers — keep your laws away from our guns. Several towns have approved a nonbinding resolution designating the municipalities as Second Amendment “sanctuary” towns. It comes as lawmakers consider tougher gun restrictions including prohibiting the possession of semiautomatic assault weapons in certain places and requiring a 72-hour waiting period for firearm purchases.
“The township or the town of Clarendon hereby declares itself to be a Second Amendment and Article 16 constitutional gun owner township,” said Clarendon Selectboard Chair Mike Klopchin, reading a new resolution signed by the board. It’s a measure this small, mostly conservative community agrees on. “It’s more or less just to let our state and federal representatives know where our community stands on this particular issue.”
They’re supporting the defense of the right to keep and bear arms — a movement started by the group Gun Owners of Vermont.
“They kind of feel like they’ve been calling and emailing their legislators and they feel like they’re not being heard, and this is sort of a way that, you know, we’ve come up with to help them get the message across and hopefully get the folks in Montpelier to listen to them a little bit more,” said the group’s Eric Davis.
Davis says the group reached out to their 7,000 follows to ask their local town officials to support the resolution.
“The select board did decide to express support for the resolution,” said Pittsford Town Manager John Haverstock. He says the board hasn’t signed the resolution yet, but will further discuss the matter at their next meeting. “Fundamentally, it’s to be expected that the Pittsford Selectboard would want to do something that is reasonable and responsible here in town.”
Officials in both Rutland County towns say they understand that the resolution doesn’t change any laws. The Vermont Attorney General’s office affirms that, saying any cities and towns passing resolutions purporting to opt-out of compliance with state laws are not valid.
Senator Phil Baruth, D-Chittenden County, sits on the Judiciary Committee and has been a proponent of new gun restrictions. He says the resolutions are intended to raise the temperature and make Vermont’s new gun laws seem incredibly invasive.
“If you go to the Gun Owners of Vermont website it will say dedicated to a no-compromise position on gun control. And they’re free to take any position that they want. I’m all about sensible compromise, so raising the purchase age to 21 is a pretty sensible small-bore idea. It’s not gonna involve people driving to your house and confiscating your weapons,” Baruth said.
Second Amendment sanctuary towns and cities are popping up in several states across the country and national news outlets, including The Wall Street Journal and Fox News, say around 100 counties and cities in Virginia alone have joined the movement.