Gun control group donates to politicians

Vermont’s gun laws serve our state well.
Vermont is constantly one of the very lowest crime rate states.
Vermont is continuously one of the very best gun safety states.
Vermont is not a major source of guns for other states, as proven by BATFE data.

Laura Krantz Sep. 30 2014

A group pushing for tighter gun control laws in Vermont last month donated to 91 candidates for state legislature who say they would support a law requiring anyone who purchases a firearm to undergo a criminal background check, according to forms to be filed with the secretary of state


Gun Sense Vermont plans to file with the secretary of state a financial disclosure form for its political action committee, Gun Sense Vermont Victory Fund, reflecting its largest cash outflow to date, around $15,000.

Gun Sense donated across party lines, the filing documents show. That’s because Democrats, Republicans and Progressives alike support background checks, said the group’s president Ann Braden, whose group has been organizing grassroots support across the state this summer.

“It’s so inspiring to see the grassroots action on such unprecedented level because it means we can be supporting the lawmakers that are ready to take this centrist position,” Braden said.

The Gun Sense Vermont Victory PAC, formed in February, has raised $23,000 so far, from 110 donors, and spent $18,500, according to the October 1 disclosure form, viewed by VTDigger.

The group calls the lack of background check legislation an “outdated loophole” that can allow felons, domestic abusers and convicted drug dealers easy access to weapons.

Braden said the background check legislation is still being drafted and doesn’t yet have a sponsor.

Earlier this year Gun Sense Vermont commissioned a poll that found 81 percent of voters in Vermont, including 77 percent of gun owners, support criminal background checks on all gun sales.

The poll showed that 67 percent of voters would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports gun control laws.

Vermont has among the most lax laws in the state and also among the lowest crime rates. In Vermont it is legal to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.

Some gun rights advocates say background checks are a solution in search of a problem. Evan Hughes, the vice president and registered lobbyist for the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, said he wants to see specific legislation.

“The position of the federation is going to be: The laws in Vermont are just fine,” said Hughes.

The federation is still formulating its agenda for the upcoming session and looks forward to seeing a bill about background checks, Hughes said.

Rep. Linda Waite-Simpson, D-Essex Junction, received $1,000, the largest single donation given in Gun Sense’s Wednesday filing.
Braden said Necrason Group, the lobbying firm Gun Sense hired to help them with this push, has advised on how much to give to each candidate. They offered campaign contributions between $100 and $1,600, she said.

Candidates in tight elections sometimes receive more, and Senate races typically are more expensive to campaign for than the House, she said.
Waite-Simpson Tuesday said, if re-elected, she plans to work on background check legislation. Several police officers have asked her to again sponsor a bill that would make it illegal, at the state level, for felons to possess firearms, she said.

Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell, Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham, PAC for a Better Vermont and the Senate Leadership Committee each received $500. Other candidates received $300, $200 or $100.

Those who donated to Gun Sense Vermont in September include Brookline resident Lyndall Boal, who gave $1,000, Burlington resident Andrea Rogers, who donated $500, and Lola Van Wagenen, of Shelburne, who also gave $500.