A Common Sense Approach to Gun Rights

On Friday, April 17th, the Vermont House of Representatives voted 80 to 62 to pass a bill that makes it illegal under Vermont law for a violent criminal to possess a firearm, and requires that a person judged in a court of law as dangerous to themselves or others be reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check database.  I was proud to advocate for the bill's passage and to count myself in the majority.  I made the following statement on the floor of the House after my vote:

"Mr. Speaker,
We've heard comments today that reflect a fear that any bill we pass dealing with guns in any capacity will lead to no one being able to own a gun.

This is an irrational fear. It implies that if we move away from one extreme - an absence of regulation - that it will inevitably project us to the other extreme - a total outright ban of all gun ownership.
We are smarter than that. The character of democracy is to hear opinions from all sides and find a middle ground.

We cannot allow convicted violent felons, people who have already shown a propensity for ignoring the basic rights of you, me, our neighbors, to possess deadly weapons.

As far as reporting persons who have been judged in a court of law to be a danger to themselves or others as a result of mental illness, the Executive Vice President of the NRA suggested in 2012 after the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting that the dangerously mentally ill should be reported to 'an active national database of the mentally ill.'  This is what we are doing.

Let us not fear the measures we take to protect ourselves by keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and of those who have been demonstrated to be violently dangerous, so that we can make our communities safer."