Yeah, About S32

(In the interest of balance, I think this diary deserves a front page presence. – promoted by Sue Prent)

I admit that I was quite surprised when our friend Senator Philip Baruth introduced his so-called assault weapons ban in the State Senate.  It wasn't something I'd expected from any Vermont pol, and I am very glad he did it.  Not that I necessarily support that idea here in our state with its history, gun culture, rural population, etc.  Nor did I give it much of a chance of passage, at least in its original form.

That said, I think he did exactly what he ought to have done: saw a societal problem and as a legislator tried to begin the process of addressing it in Vermont.  There are never guaranteed outcomes in the sausage factory.  Yet it's clear that Phil's risky move did two important things: it started a very passionate debate, and it proved that the legislative process works.

First, by introducing a controversial bill such as S32, people from all over the political spectrum began arguing about its constitutionality, its general merits, and Vermont's role in the national problem.  The larger debate in the US and the daily toll of firearm violence can seem fairly remote to us, and I don't think this discussion would've had a lot of immediacy without Phil's taking a big step ahead of our political community.

Second, he has in fact withdrawn his bill, as the Raptorman reported earlier.  Senator Baruth heard from his constituents, he heard from people from all over the state, he heard from his caucus, and after all that wisely decided that it was better to take the ban off the table rather than push something that was out of sync with current political reality.  The process worked exactly as it should, and one would hope that demonstrates to folks that we're a long way from any imagined tyranny.


Here's an excerpt from his statement to the other Senators for them to send to their constituents (posted with his permission):

It seemed to me that with the Federal government paralyzed, it had been left to the states to address both the mental health and gun-related components of these tragedies.

But it is painfully clear to me now that little support exists in the Vermont Statehouse for this sort of bill.  It’s equally clear that focusing the debate on the banning of a certain class of weapons may already be overshadowing measures with greater consensus, like tightening background checks, stopping the exchange of guns for drugs, and closing gun show loopholes.  Finally, as incoming Majority Leader, I owe it to my caucus to remove an issue that seems increasingly likely to complicate our shared agenda this biennium.

To the many responsible gun-owners with whom I’ve communicated over the last several weeks:  I’ve heard you.  Please hear me when I say that government is not your enemy – we are all alike threatened by the kind of violence we saw in Newtown, violence that is clearly spreading.  And all of us are responsible for stopping it.  It’s my hope that with this ban set aside, you’ll join more willingly in that effort.

I applaud Phil for his courage in proposing the bill, as well as for his courage in withdrawing it.  I'm glad we have such a thoughtful and responsive leader in Montpelier, and I hope we all can continue having a fruitful debate with him and the rest of our citizen legislators about how we can protect liberty for all.


PS–As I noted in comments on kestrel's post, I was looking forward to hearings on the issue.  I wasn't convinced the ban was a good approach for VT–despite its clear (to me) constitutionality per both SCOTUS and SCOV precedent–but I wanted to see what people said about its potential efficacy, if anybody had good data on our role as a net arms exporting state, etc.

104 thoughts on “Yeah, About S32

  1. You hate freedom love terrorists evilevilevilevil!!! Blaarsahjgn2389nnjiw938N*E#*@#* beatyoustopyou dontyouDARErunforofficeagain!!!!

    Sorry. Thought I’d start the conversation in a way consistent with what we’ve seen on the site of late.

  2. About the only thing Baruth has done is to demonstrate that many, maybe most, Vermont politicians do not want to have a real discussion about guns.  His withdrawal of the bill simply means that the discussion, the real discusion in the political world, will never happen.  Thus every politician can say and do whatever (s)he wants with no way to clearly document what (s)he really thinks.  There is nothing courageous about Baruth’s introduction of the  bill or his withdrawal of it.  

  3. He introduce a vague bill and wasn’t prepared to face the blowback, both the justifiable kind and the irrational kind from the Red Dawn crowd.  And now he looks silly for withdrawing it at the first hint of pressure.

    If there’s any way Sen. Baruth nudged this discussion forward was by showing everyone how not to do it.

  4. There won’t be any significant changes until SCOTUS flips from 5-4 to 4-5. However, smaller efforts that start the discussion will help set the stage.

  5. I, too, was looking forward to actual debate on just where is the line on gun control versus the 2nd Amendment.

    I really want to ask Kestrel about that line.  He seems adamant that the general populace must be allowed to have military-grade assault-style weapons and large-capacity magazines the sole purpose of which is to kill as many of his neighbors in the shortest amount of time possible.  

    Just how is it that the Constitution allows arming untrained civilians to the teeth with almost-military grade weapons? In absence of a ‘well-regulated militia’, which we now know was a sop to the slave holder’s human-hunting parties where they killed slaves for sport (in addition to the Founders knowing that a standing army leads to imperialism), just where is the line?

    The USA regulates speech far more than guns,  and the 4th Amendment has been almost completely eradicated.  Why can’t the 2nd Amendment be regulated as much as the 1st and 4th?

    I have yet to see one single gun-nut fight for the 1st or 4th amendment as much as they fight for the 3rd.

    So, Kestrel, where do you draw the line? You made a comment in a previous thread that you will fight to get Baruth out of office because he put forward a sensible plan on the most horrific weapons and accessories that simply should not be allowed in the hands of average citizens.

    Since you feel so strongly that human-only killing machines should be allowed to anyone that wants them with no reason or training, where do you draw the line?  By your logic America should be able to buy rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and land mines.

    I shall use Kestrel’s logic to say that I should be able to own a suitcase nuke, because my family just isn’t safe if I can’t turn my small Vermont town into an irradiated crater whenever I feel unsafe!

    To sum up: No one has any right to military-style assault rifles!  No one has any right to high capacity magazines!  No one has any right to hollow-point bullets, which are banned for use by the army specifically because of the horrific damage is does.  No one has any right to armor-piercing, or exploding bullets.

    The Second Amendment itself mentions regulations, so any argument that guns can not be regulated by law as a violation of that amendment is false on it’s face.  We already have a ban on private ownership of full-auto guns, semi-auto assault-style weapons OBVIOUSLY needs to be banned.

  6. Well, fuck it.  Goddamn, I’m sure glad the Fondling Fathers didn’t put any shit in the Constitution about the right to have an enormous carbon footprint for the pursuit of happiness.  Or an amendment about what ‘marriage’ should be.  Or one protecting the rights of the people to engage in vigilante justice.


    And if that means recalling certain types of ‘products’, then so be it.

    Once again, THE PEOPLE will pick up the bill for an enormous bureaucracy set up to invade their privacy, civil rights, and BACKGROUND.  And the Gun Industry will just keep on doing Business As Usual.

    And…more and more massacres will occur.


  7. GMD is circling the drain (as it pertains to the quality of its commentary and posted comments) since his departure. We miss you Mr. Town Clerk.

    What used to be insightful, funny and articulate progressive thinking has been reduced to petty name calling and 5th grade level rants.  

  8. Our position remains firm.  If there are background checks, we recommend LIBERALS be barred from purchasing certain weapons.

    And one more thing you LIBERALS on GMD have conveniently overlooked in your frenzy about assault weapons:

    Last week, in Everett, Washington, a woman smothered her boyfriend to death with her tits.  Should there be a ban on ASSAULT TITS?  TIT CONTROL?  If LOOKS COULD KILL, would you be in favor of DIRTY LOOK CONTROL?

    You see, guns can kill, but there are so many other ways to kill.  Should we ban cars?  Soccer games?  Neil Diamond?

    And what about this DEATH WITH DIGNITY that you all support?  Should DEATH WITH DIGNITY be done by drugs?  It’s all right to kill people with drugs?  What about the old geezer who uses a gun to blow his brains out?  Never thought of that did you?  If you had your way, no poor elderly gent who wanted to end it all by blowing his brains out would be able to do so.  He’d have to find a woman to Tit Smother him to death.

    You wait.  There will be more incidents with ASSAULT TITS.  If that poor fellow in Everett, Washington had a gun, he’d still be with us today.

    One thing you have to say for DEATH BY THE GUN–it’s as American as Apple Pie.  Yes, it’s as American as Big Tits.  Perverts are taking over this country.  Did you hear what Obama said yesterday?  But we here at the NRA will defend the right of Gay Couples to buy guns for protection.  We will soon be promoting a new product from Weatherby–the LONG RANGE .457 magnum, which will stop an entire carload of Gay Bashers at over 300 yards.

    And those poor six-year-old kiddies?  We have a product in mind for them too.  We here at the NRA hope to see the day when a gun can be inserted into the womb so that a newborn baby will be pop out fully armed and ready to protect itself.  Yeah, we know.  You all love abortion.  Well, we here at the NRA believe that life should begin once a fetus is armed.  And once the fetuses are armed, no more of this abortion crap.  The one and only way a fetus or a grown-up should die is by the gun.  That’s what they meant by that Second Amendment–Americans’ RIGHT to live by the gun, die by the gun.  

    REMEMBER–When you get rid of GUNS, you will be at the mercy of TITS.  We here at the NRA have already all gone through our MOTHER ISSUES.  Do you recall that Robert Bly guy and the IRON MEN MOVEMENT?  We here at the NRA regularly sponsor retreats in the deep woods for guys and their guns.  No tits allowed.  We here at the NRA will soon be working with the Gun Industry on a semi-automatic and fully automatic rifle a guy can have sex with.  It can be done.  And once it is, THEN we’re talking about EQUALITY for a man’s gun as the man’s PARTNER.  Yes, we here at the NRA believe in, and will promote, CIVIL UNION and MARRIAGE between a consenting American male and his consenting gun.  

    Obama mentioned Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall?   Our battle cry will be NEWTOWN.  Let there NEVER come about in AMERICA the day that a child is deprived of his or her right to die by the gun!  

    Thank you.  Now I must go.  It’s almost noon and I haven’t yet exercised my daily Constitutional Right to shoot someone.  GOD BLESS AMERICA!  GOD BLESS GUNS!!!  

  9. Vermont rated slightly above average for gun-related deaths and has a rate twice that of New York and Massachusetts.  That should bunk the “responsible gun-owner” myth, no?  Why isn’t anyone researching this?  Oh, because a few gun owners scared away the debate.

  10. Indeed, New York and Massachusetts have half the gun ownership as Vermont.

    That could help explain why Vermont has twice the gun-related deaths than those neighboring states.

    So that still brings us to conclude that Vermont gun owners are only as responsible as gun owners in these other states.

  11. Books banned in U.S. in last 10 years:  1432

    Guns banned in U.S. in last 10 years:  7

    Children killed by books in U.S.:  0

    Children killed by guns in U.S.:  ???

    Comments on Gun Control on U.S. blogsites:  184,874,510

    Comments on War in Afghanistan on U.S. blogsites: 78,954,102

    Follow-ups in Establishment U.S Media on Houston woman shot and killed by Walmart Security Guard for shoplifting:  00000…

    Follow-ups in Establishment U.S. media on Everett, Washington man smothered to death by his girlfriends tits:  19,217

    Deaths attributed to stupidity in U.S. in last ten years: 357,895

    Deaths attributed to stupidity in Vermont in last 10 years:  14

    Number of ways Second Amendment is interpreted in U.S.: 4,404,006

    Number of ways Second Amendment SHOULD BE INTERPRETED in U.S.:  1

    Money spent on guns and ammunition in U.S. this year (includes Vermont): $14,392,107,745 (and 49 cents)

    Money spent on Child Care in U.S. (includes Vermont): $867,918,432 (and 29 cents)

    Time spent by American citizens on worrying about guns, gun control & gun massacres in U.S.: ALL THE TIME

    Time spent by American citizens on worrying about Global Warming:  WHAT GLOBAL WARMING?

    What Americans will do if a Republican campaigns for President in 2016 on a platform that makes gun ownership MANDATORY in U.S.:  Elect him (or her)

    What Americans will do if Aliens From Another Galaxy land in Texas and offer a solutions to WAR, GLOBAL WARMING, DISCRIMINATION, and ECONOMIC INJUSTICE:  SHOOT THEM

    Why U.S. is most loathsome country in the world:  See Above

    Why other people in the World hate the U.S.:  See Above

    What Americans need to do about all this:  Buy a gun and BLOW OUR BRAINS OUT

    Then What:  GUN INDUSTRY will make a fortune and create the Republic of Gunland out of parts of India, China, Texas, Washington & Vermont (and use Child Labor to make more guns)

    COME ON, PEOPLE.  I mean, Jesus, if War, Martin Luther King (what killed him?) and Gay Rights got this much attention, we wouldn’t be so exorcised about Baruth’s proposal because it would have happened decades ago.


  12. for absolutely moronic comparison between skyscrapers and guns.

    Besides, you don’t need a skyscraper to leap to your death.  Plenty of Vermonters have leapt to their deaths over the years right smack dab in the Green Mountain State.  


    (Guns are the preferred method of suicide throughout this land.  If you are concerned about suicides (maybe you aren’t), why would you focus on jumping when a much bigger problem is guns??)

  13. The “absolutely moronic comparison between skyscrapers and guns” that you describe was made in response to what I believe is the absolutely moronic comparison between gun deaths in Vermont and frankly’s persistent attempt to use that one statistic to “bunk the “responsible gun-owner” myth” they believe exists in Vermont.

    Here are the facts:

    Vermont has many, many, more guns, per capita, than New York and Massachusetts. It’s not even close.

    Yet, Vermont has a fraction of the gun murders that those two states have. Again, not close.

    In Vermont, somewhere in the vicinity of HALF of the gun deaths that occur on an annual basis are by means of suicide.

    My point is that it doesn’t logically follow that since “Vermont has twice the gun-related deaths than those neighboring states” that a “responsible gun-owner myth” exists, or that Vermont gun-owners are “only as responsible as gun owners in these other states”. As Todd stated earlier, there are other reasons that could explain these relative differences, including what he described as “the law of small numbers”.

    As I posted earlier, on average, Vermont experiences 1.3 murders by firearm, per year, per 100,000 people in the state. That’s exponentially lower than the national average, including the New York and Massachusetts rates. I’m not aware of a single murder that’s happened in this state by means of an “assault weapon”.

    Focusing on banning a certain type of gun because we need to “do something” for fear that mass murders “could happen” in Vermont is absolutely analogous to passing a ban on skyscrapers because our suicide rates “could” increase were we to allow more of them in our state. You don’t need an effing skyscraper to commit suicide.

  14. There’s an old dictum about the difference between fiction and science fiction: Science fiction has to make sense.

    Ridiculous assertion.  Laughable.

  15. I had already looked into Hartmann’s assertion right after he made it.  

    And I did click through your links, which lead me to a couple of paragraphs that started with an ad hominem attack against Mr.Hartmann from a lawyer who makes his living defending gun-nuttery.  My only loss was wasting my time.

    Note that Mr. Hartmann was not the source of the information he presented on his show, and your “expert” didn’t even look into Hartmann’s assertion enough to know that.  

    Hartmann’s show is not like Fox or hate radio where people talk out their asses and it is taken as gospel.  He does his research, and does a good job picking reputable sources. The source for his assertion that the second amendment exists to placate slave owners so they could maintain slave patrols without interference is a law school professor that has testified before Congress regarding gun control and the second amendment.

  16. The assumption was that the militia was made up of the People, who were expected to be armed.  You can’t completely divorce the prefatory clause from the other part.

    Even if you could, though, there are still limits.

  17. …the connection to the the militia most explicit in Miller wasn’t tossed out in Heller:

    “We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time.” 307 U. S., at 179. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of “dangerous and unusual weapons.”

    It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service-M-16 rifles and the like-may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment ‘s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty.

    It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right.”

  18. More Heller:

    “This holding [Miller[ is not only consistent with, but positively suggests, that the Second Amendment confers an individual right to keep and bear arms (though only arms that “have some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia”). “

  19. for keeping and bearing arms.

    Rather the other way ’round, actually.

    And using that line of thought, all military small-arms, and arguably crew-served weapons, become legal for the Citizens.


    “Some have made the argument, bordering on the frivolous, that only those arms in existence in the 18th century are protected by the Second Amendment . We do not interpret constitutional rights that way. Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communications, e.g., Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U. S. 844, 849 (1997) , and the Fourth Amendment applies to modern forms of search, e.g., Kyllo v. United States, 533 U. S. 27, 35-36 (2001) , the Second Amendment extends, prima facie,to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.”

  21. But even in Heller, the prefatory clause is linked to the last part.  And we are, in fact, in the militia (at least able-bodied males from 18-45).

    Not sure where you get the logic, especially in light of Heller and the concept that all individual rights can have limits, that anybody could own crew-served weapons.

  22. But, as I pointed out before, both homicide and suicide rates appear like they will go down (not just firearm induced), judging by other countries’ experience.  Part of the problem is access combined with intent.  Intent alone doesn’t do much if you can’t follow through right away, whether it’s suicide or a domestic dispute escalating (which seems to be the biggest threat in VT murders).

  23. The “absolutely moronic comparison between skyscrapers and guns” that you describe was made in response to what I believe is the absolutely moronic comparison between gun deaths in Vermont and frankly’s persistent attempt to use that one statistic to “bunk the “responsible gun-owner” myth” they believe exists in Vermont.

    False equivalency – you still have a nonsensical comment.

  24. And the 100th comment will win, what’s that Johnny?

    “Ski, it’s a NEW GUN!”

    “Yes, it’s the NEW Single Shot Weatherby 687 Magnum ‘Mini-Nuke’–fires one 687 magnum sized Nuclear-Tipped round with the explosive force of .01 kilotons.  That’s TEN TONS OF TNT, folks!  Perfect for hunting trains and low flying commercial aircraft!  Comes with its own Special HUNTER’S SPACESUIT.  Just aim, fire, and duck and cover!  Yes, Ski, we’re talking the absolute LATEST here in GUN FASHION.  Folks, you’ll get the attention and respect you’ve always wanted with the Weatherby 687 Magnum Mini-Nuke.  (But remember this caution:  Eating game or fish killed with this weapon MAY represent a hazard to your health.)  Back to you, Ski!    

  25. “Yes, Stardust, you’re the official 100th Comment!  And for that you will receive the very first Weatherby 687 magnum Mini-Nuke!  Comes with carrying case and cleaning kit.  However–you have to MAKE your own shells.  Some stupid federal regulation about nuclear ammunition.  We here at the NRA are working on that.  Back to you, Ski.”

  26. Mwaaa-aaa! I’m sure it’s fun, fly & fine–but, since it’s only a single shotand I’d have to make my own shells (enriched uranium, even that newer ‘low-enriched’ terrorists have been working on is soo like messy), plus I don’t want to pissoff the neighbors. So, I’d like to sell it & purchase a firearm assortment. Have my heart set on a small Uzi, & a pink fo-fo for starters.

  27. And see our website: anygununderthesun.bang for available assortments.  You will note there, stardust, that, not only do we do firearm assortments, we also do firearm ‘arrangements’.  Think how decorous your next Holiday dining table will be with a big pot of guns as a centerpiece.  Your family and friends will be so enchanted, they’ll want to touch them, smell them, and ask you: “Why, stardust, did you grow all these guns in your own backyard.”  And you can just smile and say: “You’ve made my day.”

  28. ‘gifts for gunners’. An arrangement of flowers including a gun, unloaded of course. But, it could be one of the ‘add-ons’-a fresh box of ammo in matching multicolored shells. Hologram swirls and sparkles would be very pretty. Large matching bow on the box…multi-colored metalflake gun bouquets? Penitentiary steel & gunmetal gray is soo drab…instead of pink I want red w/glow-in-the-dark sparkles.

    Possibilities are endless!  

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