August 18th, 2019

Guest Opinion: Regarding Guns

Guest Opinion: Regarding Guns

Dear Editor,

Advocates of unrestricted gun laws repeat the mantra, “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” And if we were to truly outlaw guns, they might have a point. But there is nothing in the recently passed Vermont gun safety law that outlaws or even contemplates outlawing guns.

The NRA repeats a similar refrain. They claim efforts to pass any sort of gun regulation are an erosion of the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. That message is repeated so often many people are absolutely certain it’s true. But what exactly are the rights the Second Amendment conveys? Writing for the Supreme Court majority in 2008, Justice Anton Scalia said “The Second Amendment should not be understood as conferring a “right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” In providing examples of laws it considered “presumptively lawful,” the Court included imposing conditions of the commercial sale of firearms.

S.55 that recently passes both House and Senate will ban the purchase of high capacity magazines and also the purchase or possession of bump stocks. Why is that important? While the general population has been prohibited from owning fully automatic weapons since 1934, adding a bump stock and a high capacity magazine to an otherwise simple hunting rifle makes the weapon a killing machine capable of firing scores or rounds without interruption. That is precisely the type of weapon the Supreme Court anticipated prohibiting. A rifle with just a high capacity magazine can be nearly as lethal. S.55 doesn’t outlaw guns. Instead, it works well within the bounds of the Second Amendment to reduce senseless killing with weapons in the hands of people who have no business having them in the first place.

Representative Jim Masland

Thetford Center

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