Vermont parent, veteran and longtime gun owner Jud Lawrie talks about why he supports background checks on all gun sales in Vermont. 

First some background.  I have owned a gun since I was about 15 (I’m now 75).  It was a 22 caliber bolt action rifle which I still have.  There was a group of us in the neighborhood and one of the fathers taught us about gun safety and allowed us to do some target shooting in his basement.  I have fond memories of target shooting at tin cans, etc. when I was young.

My brother is an ardent NRA member who has taught gun safety for NRA.  Several years ago he taught my young son how to safely shoot a handgun.  My son still regards that experience as a “rite of passage” of sorts.  I’m also a veteran and well appreciate the use of guns in appropriate settings.

Here’s what I have come to believe about guns:

  • Guns, responsibly used and stored, are fine (e.g. for hunting, target shooting, home protection, etc.).
  • Universal background checks are appropriate and necessary to help keep guns out of the hands of felons, criminals, people with serious and risky mental health problems, people who have committed serious domestic violence abuses, etc.
  • Reasonable regulation of guns is not contrary to the 2nd Amendment.

As for the 2nd Amendment, to those who believe that the amendment prohibits any kind of sensible regulation of guns, I say “baloney.”  I liken the 2nd Amendment issue to the regulation of the use of automobiles.  I recognize that automobiles are not covered by the Constitution—they weren’t even invented until more than a century later.  But suppose there had been an amendment, not unlike the 2nd, that said “the right of citizens to own and operate a personal conveyance upon public roads and streets shall not be infringed”?  Would this mean that in the present day anyone has the right to operate a motor vehicle?  Including children?  That drivers could not be required to be trained and licensed?  That persons convicted of multiple DUIs could not be kept off the highways?  That speed limits and other traffic safety laws could not be established and enforced?  I believe that most citizens would find such thinking totally crazy.

Let’s be sensible.  Let’s end the senseless carnage.  Let’s find better ways to resolve conflict.  Let’s adopt reasonable laws and regulations that help ensure that guns are used safely and responsibly, and that they are kept out of irresponsible hands.