Now, the conversation can begin.

Yesterday, Burlington residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of three firearms regulations which seem destined to redirect the entire conversation in Vermont.

Despite a hearty endorsement by Burlington voters, adoption of the new rules seems unlikely at present, since that would require  significant changes to state law, and my guess is that this is more than even the Democratic majority in the legislature is prepared to undertake right now.

Still, the good folks of Burlington have done us all a favor by necessitating a conversation that has long been overdue.

Even on our little lefty blog, the topic has drawn enough heat from both sides to, more than once, bring us close to a meltdown.

We should be better than this, and we will be, going forward.  

There are not two, but many “sides” to this big and peculiarly American issue; and arguments both valid and invalid come from every direction.

One of the best arguments that proponents of “open carry” have is that guns are a reality; and that they already are everywhere, exponentially outnumbering gun-owners; so that it well might be argued that we have no choice but to arm ourselves.

That same argument can easily be turned upside down as the very reason why we must reexamine our fundamental relationship with guns and gird ourselves for change.

That’s where the orthodoxy police try to end any further debate with the “constitutional closer.”  

Rather as the devout are instructed not to question revelations lest they lose their faith, Americans have been taught that any thread pulled from our constitutional cloth will unravel the whole thing, leaving us in a state of naked anarchy.

Personally, I think that is utter nonsense.

We have an open-ended bill of rights precisely because our forefathers came to realize that they were not infallible; and that the passage of time and circumstances cannot help but force new perspectives.  Still they trusted that the founding principles, and the better nature of the people who would be born under those principles, would ensure that the nation remained nimble and just.

Arguing that we cannot now have the difficult and urgent conversations around firearms is yielding to the same sclerotic atrophy that has doomed great nations throughout history.

I can’t accept that without a fight.

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

13 thoughts on “Now, the conversation can begin.

  1. I read an article on VPR about how the purchase of guns through straw purchasers can end up in the hands of criminals from other states in exchange for drugs. This is a complex problem and I would like to hear thoughts and ideas as to how it would be best to confront through either the use of existing laws or possibly new ones.…  

  2. It’s more of the same.  Couches on porches.  Guns on porches.  Burlington is CRAWLING with Yuppie Progs who like to pass shit town laws relating to ‘other’ peoples’ BEHAVIOR.  I’m not surprised that these articles passed.  Hell, here’s a burg where I can’t smoke a cigarette on Church Street–so, Hell, I avoid Burlington.

    Remember the comment I did last year comparing Burlington to that town in the Eastwood movie UNFORGIVEN?  Yeah, check your guns in when you come to Burlington.  And your Critical Thought.

    All they’ve done is made an issue out of another ‘non-issue’ and set up a series of time-wasting debate and appeals in the State Legislature and State Supreme Court.

    Well, I guess if I were a Yuppie Prog, I would have supported these articles too.  So I’d be safe to go into a Burlington bar on Church St.:

    “Hey, aren’t you the !@/%#)! low-down weasel who got that CONCEALED THOUGHT article in the Town Warning?!  Jack, hand me your gun!”

    And also, Sue, I think Ed’s probably already upset, and reading your post here is going to create another COMMENTS AT THE OK CORAL.  Better duck, ma’am.    

  3. What Burlington has done is force the issue in Montpelier. Since the state leg refuses to act, local municipalities have to do something to get Montpelier to respond.

    How can anyone argue that people should have loaded guns inside bars!?

    How can anyone argue that one spouse beating up the other should be allowed to have a gun?

  4. Shouldn’t have guns in bars.  I remember my first hunting season in Vermont–Nov., 1975.  There was this rough and tumble bar in Hardwick called D’s Chaparral.  I went in there on the first Saturday night of hunting season, and, I shit you not, some guys were drinking with loaded sidearms of the Western six-shooter variety on their hips.  I asked my old college friend, who had been up in Vermont for a while, what the Hell is this?  Tombstone?  He said that it was Vermont, and that it was HUNTING SEASON.  And I said What?  These guys hunt deer with six-shooters?  My friend explained about the law (or lack of ) in Vermont.  I had never lived in any state before that allowed folks to carry loaded sidearms on their hips in bars.  I thought then that I didn’t want to stay for last call.  So yes, I agree with you, guns and alcohol are a bad mix, and guns shouldn’t be allowed in bars.  The only reasons to carry a gun into a bar are to hold it up, or settle a dispute over goddamn pool.  Or kill your girlfriend and the guy that’s flirting with her.

    Also, an ‘abuser’ or ‘batterer’ should be disarmed by a court ruling.  The woman should be armed, however.  

    What worries me is that existing rules on the books are rarely enforced (take Fish and Game gun violations, for an example), and so we get to a place where we feel we need MORE LAWS and RULES, instead of fucking common sense and due process with existing rules.

    I never want to see in Vermont a situation where a woman who defends herself with a gun is prosecuted for possessing that gun.  Or, worse, is DEAD because she was denied her right to own the weapon in the first place.

    So, we have to watch out here.  When you rant about your health and cigarette smoke, it sounds to me like you are advocating SWEEPING BANS on other folks’ rights to live a certain way.  No sensible person would directly blow smoke in anyone’s face (that’s a challenge to DRAW!).  Only an asshole would do that, and that asshole needs to be dealt with according to the common sense rules that govern our social interaction with regards to everyone’s specific rights.  Same with the gun.  You violate someone’s rights with a gun, or THREATEN that person’s rights, and I say, YES, take away the gun from the asshole.  That’s a common sense rule, and should be a common sense LAW that’s ENFORCED.

    But merely OWNING a gun?  Having it LOADED in your home?  Carrying it concealed (not in a bar, though) for your own protection?  Don’t fuck with that.  You are then working for the people who want a DISARMED and COMPLIANT populace.  And my fear is that, since lib-er-als and ‘behavioral power-trippers’ have a long record of fucking with the rights of the ‘working class’ and the ‘regular people’, this gun control issue will become their new ‘HEALTH’ crusade.  A crusade that says THEIR HEALTH CONCERNS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN MY RIGHTS.

    Will we reach a day in this country when we argue about who should have THE RIGHT TO VOTE?  Oh shit, excuse me.  We already have.  The VOTING RIGHTS ACT was gutted, and now Republican extremists in States all over the country are fucking with the vote.  I’d like to see us get more ‘activist’ about that.  

    Thanks for pointing out ‘specific’ circumstances where the gun is used as a violation instead of a right.  Good discussion so far.  

    But remember, Putin and Obama are about to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of WWI.  Machine guns and poison gas may come into vogue again.  Much worse than a six-shooter or cigarette smoke.      

  5. “Personally, I find a STEEL HANKIE adequate as Home Protection, but let us always remember, Sue, a gun locked away or broken down in the home is like unto owning a car whose engine you must reinstall every workday morning.  Or, like unto a cat litter box located outside when said cat is inside.  Parents and adult owners of guns must at all times locate these weapons where there is not the slightest chance of a child seeing them, let alone handling them.  This can be done.  It has been done.  With LOADED guns also.  This is basic parent/child training.  You train your child not to play with the sharp knives or stick his/her hand in the garbage disposal–but also, you take pains to make sure dangerous household appliances are out of said child’s reach as much as possible.

    “A gun, loaded or otherwise, in the home should be treated with the utmost seriousness, as it is a VERY SERIOUS appliance–it is a DEADLY APPLIANCE.  So, home protection weapons should be regarded, perhaps, as one would regard rat poison or some other toxic substance in the home.  Out of reach of children, but not of the adult.  I would use a STEEL HANKIE on an adult who was lapse in good gun safety etiquette.  And a gun just laying around the house is, of course, not a very gracious site to present to visitors whom one wishes to impress with one’s good taste and breeding.

    “Thank you, Sue.  I must go now to patrol the streets of Montpelier.  You’d be surprised at the amount of DANGER there is out there just from people’s lack of good manners.  Adieu.”  

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