In this month's news:
- A successful public hearing
- Update on state bills
- Safe storage
- Our hearts go out to New Zealand
- A win for Newtown parents
News from Vermont
Successful hearing on gun bills
Thank you to all who turned out for the public hearing on March 12th and to the Senate Judiciary Committee for arranging the hearing on a number of gun-related bills. Among those who testified in favor of waiting periods and safe storage laws were physicians, members of the clergy, gun owners/hunters, teachers, psychologists, and advocates for the mentally ill. We are grateful to all who testified and to everyone who responded to our call to action by contacting the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Bill update/Call to Action
As the legislative session nears its mid-point, we are seeing progress on a number of prevention bills. S.22 (a waiting period bill) and S.72 (improvement to "red flag" law) have been rolled together into S.169 which was passed by the Senate yesterday. It will now head to the house for continued improvement and approval.
Please call your Representative today and next week and ask them to vote YES on a strong waiting period bill. Waiting periods save lives and lower rates of suicide by gun and suicide overall.
Vermont Youth for GunSense at Regional Summit
Update from Emma Bauer, Director of VT Youth for GunSense:
Vermont Youth for GunSense participated in the Gun Violence Prevention Student Summit at the Boston University School of Public Health, hosted by Stop Handgun Violence and March for Our Lives Massachusetts. Students had the opportunity to meet fellow activists from across New England, learn new advocacy skills, and hear from speakers such as Freedom Rider Paul Breines and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. Now, we are turning our focus towards a student training seminar hosted at the University of Vermont as well as lobbying for critical bills in the State House.
Safe Storage/Child Access Prevention Resources
Safe storage and child access prevention continues to be a top priority for us. Legislating child access prevention is just one piece of the puzzle. Education for gun owners and parents around safe storage is another. A GAO report to congress in 2017 found that children who participate in programs such as the NRA's Eddie Eagle educational program are no more likely to heed basic rules (don't touch, leave the area, notify an adult) than children who did not participate in the program. While these rules seem sensible, relying on them to keep kids safe is dangerous. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Sports Shooting Foundation agree that the only safe way to store a gun is unloaded, in a safe, separate from ammunition which should be locked elsewhere.
The responsibility for safety must lie with the gun owner, not with the child. And the responsibility for knowing if children are playing in a home with potentially unsecured guns rests with parents, guardians, and caregivers. Programs like the ASK Campaign, a partnership between the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, provide excellent models for parents. Whether or not Vermont passes a safe storage law this session, programs like the ASK Campaign will continue to be necessary.
New Zealand looking at immediate reform in aftermath of attack at mosques
The leadership of New Zealand's government and many of its citizens are pushing to tighten the country's gun laws in the wake of the attack last week that took the lives of at least 50 people. Governments everywhere are having to contend with a sharp rise in white nationalism and its attending violence. We commend New Zealand's leaders and citizens for taking swift action, and we stand with New Zealand's Islamic community and people everywhere who are being targeted because of their religion.
Newtown parents win significant court battle
The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that the parents of children slain in Newtown can take action against Remington, the manufacturer of the gun used in the massacre, and other defendants in the gun industry. The industry has been shielded for years by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, but one of the charges in the case is that Remington marketed its products in particularly dangerous and unscrupulous ways. Most states have laws similar to Connecticut's that prohibit such marketing, and a win in this case could mean similar suits brought by survivors elsewhere.