Vermont Governor Phil Scott (R) signed sweeping new gun-control bills into law this week. Protesters shouted at him… they called him a “traitor” and told him they would sue over this unconstitutional move and vote him out of office.
Scott, 55, signed three new laws that ban the sale of any firearms to most adults under 21, bans the sale of rifle magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds and handgun magazines capable of holding more than 15 rounds, bans private sales of used firearms unless facilitated by a federally licensed gun dealer and bans the sale and possession of bump-fire stocks. Anyone convicted of breaking the provisions of the law could face up to a year in prison or $1,000 in fines.
On Wednesday, I’ll be signing three bills focused on reducing violence & improving gun safety. Please join me at the State House at 2:00pm for this bill signing. #vtpoli
— Governor Phil Scott (@GovPhilScott) April 9, 2018
The legislation was signed even though Vermont has a low crime rate. In 2016, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting found only six firearms murders in the entire state — two committed with handguns, two with rifles and two with knives. Previously, Scott had promised voters that he didn’t believe Vermont needed new gun laws. A little pressure from the left and he flipped nicely on that promise. Scott stated, “S. 55 includes gun safety provisions relating to background checks, bump stocks, magazine capacity and safety training requirements for those purchasing guns under the age of 21.”
“I don’t believe that we need more gun restrictions in Vermont at this time,” Scott told Vermont Public Radio previously. “I think we should enforce the ones we have. I think we should focus more on safety and gun education, but also addressing the violence problem that is systemic across the country—and I don’t have the answers for that, but that’s what’s driving this frustration, this outrage. And it’s alarming, the horrific acts are alarming. But from my standpoint, I don’t believe we need to change our gun laws in Vermont. [A background check requirement on private gun sales] is not something I would support.”
Scott attempted to explain his flip-flop by stating that a thwarted school shooting at Fair Haven Union High School caused him to support gun control. “As a state senator, Lt. Governor and Governor, I never felt the need to change our gun laws here in Vermont,” he said in his signing statement. “I believed, since we were such a small, tightknit state, that we were different and somewhat insulated from the violence the rest of the world was seeing. But I was wrong. And that’s not always easy to admit.”
He went on to proclaim that he supports the Second Amendment, but thinks new gun-control measures are necessary to protect school kids. “I support the Second Amendment, but I had to ask myself, ‘are we truly doing everything we can to make our kids and communities safer?'” Scott said. “Because if we’re at a point where our kids are afraid to go to school, and parents are afraid to put them on a bus; or police don’t have the tools they need to protect victims of violence; or families can’t step in to prevent a loved one from taking their own life; then who are we? The answers to those crucial questions forced me to reconsider, and after deep reflection, change some of my own views.”
That came as a shock to the NRA as they had backed Scott. Their support will now be withdrawn. Vermont was one of the freest and staunchest supporters of gun rights. Their Republican governor has betrayed the trust of the citizens who call that state home.
The accused plotter in the Fair Haven incident allegedly purchased a pump-action shotgun with the intention of killing his classmates, not a rifle, handgun, or bump-fire stock — all of which are restricted by Scott’s new law. He has pleaded not guilty and is currently awaiting trial.
The new laws mark a historic shift for Vermont, where both Democratic and Republican leaders have traditionally resisted any firearms regulation. The legislation limits some aspects of gun possession and empowers authorities to remove guns from people who may be dangerous. “I understand I may lose support over the decision to sign these bills today, but those are consequences I am prepared to live with,” Scott said on the steps of the Statehouse, next to his wife, Diana McTeague Scott, and flanked by a large group of cabinet officials and lawmakers.
“But if we had not even tried to reduce the possibility of a tragedy here in Vermont like Parkland or Virginia Tech, Aurora, Las Vegas, Orlando, Sandy Hook, Dallas or Charleston,” Scott continued, “if we didn’t try to reduce suicide and the pain felt by the families left behind, or if we didn’t try to prevent another death from domestic violence and another child growing up without a mom — that would be hard to live with. That’s why today we choose action over inaction, doing something over doing nothing, knowing there will always be more work to do,” Scott said. “But today, we choose to try.”
“On Feb. 16, I was in my office — ” Scott began his speech, speaking slowly and deliberately. “Smoking a joint?” someone yelled. ” – preparing for the day ahead,” Scott continued, “when everything changed. That morning I was handed a document containing charges against an 18 year-old outlining his detailed plan to carry out a school shooting here in Vermont.”
While some at the signing ceremony thanked him, Scott probably didn’t expect to hear shouts of “traitor” from people annoyed with his position. But that’s exactly what happened. “You suck!” one person could be heard saying followed by chants of “traitor, traitor…” “You lied to me Phil!” another person shouted. When he said public safety was a responsibility he took “very seriously as governor,” one man yelled, “Unlike following the Constitution.” “Traitor! Traitor! Traitor!” they chanted as Scott began his remarks. For the next 25 minutes, they repeatedly interrupted him, shouting, “Liar!” “Resign!” and “Tyranny will not be tolerated!”
After the speeches, Scott walked down the Statehouse steps and took a seat at a table to sign the three bills. “You lied to me, Phil!” one man yelled. “You lied to all of us, Phil!” a woman added. Standing behind the stone-faced governor, McTeague Scott patted her husband’s back several times to comfort him. After signing the bills, Scott stood and shook the hands of his allies. “It’s a sad day for Vermont!” an opponent shouted as the governor walked away, accompanied by his wife, staff members and security detail.
“I came right out and asked him, ‘If gun control measures come to your desk, will you sign them?’ And he says, ‘Absolutely not,’” Ben Tucker of Tunbridge recalled. “So as far as I’m concerned, that traitor lied to me, and he will not get my support in the next election.” Mike Channon of Newark attended the event wearing a fake sword that appeared to be stuck in his back. It read, “Flip flop, Phil Scott.” “How did I get that on me?” he asked rhetorically about the sword. “I voted for Phil Scott. Phil has betrayed us all. He’s a traitor, as far as I can see.”
“The tyranny of democracy has overwhelmed the protections of my constitutional, individual rights,” Bill Moore, a firearms policy analyst for the Vermont Traditions Coalition, which lobbied against the gun measures, told The Associated Press. Eddie Garcia of St. Johnsbury had this to say: “April 11, 2018: the day liberty died in Vermont. I voted for Phil Scott specifically because he promised me he would not do exactly what he is now doing. This is inexcusable, and will be ‘remembered in November.’ Phil Scott is a quisling (traitor), and I, like many others, suspect he got a little pocket scratch from Bloomberg et al in return for implementing this scurrilous attack on the rights of law abiding Vermonters,” added Garcia.
Joseph Scott Venuti, a former Vermonter who moved to North Carolina, had this to say, “As a multiple gun owner and former Vermont resident, I am deeply disturbed by this. Vermont is a model of responsible gun ownership. Once again, we have politicians further restricting gun ownership of law abiding citizens, while doing nothing at all to restrict criminals from getting guns. This bill is bull and won’t have any effect at all.”
Vermonters will remember this when they vote in November. If I were Scott, I’d freshen up my resume.
Gov. Phil Scott signs three gun control bills on the steps of the Statehouse Wednesday amid boos from those who felt he was a "traitor" and cheers from those who showed up to thank the governor for his effort.The 100 or so gun rights activists who turned out for Wednesday’s ceremony, however, were unmoved by Scott’s rationale for signing the bills. "While I know many celebrate the passage of each of these bills, I also acknowledge some of you do not,” Scott said. “And I understand your frustration.”“No you don’t!” came the cry from one man wearing an orange vest and hat.Scott pressed on through the shouting [You can watch a video of some of his speech here: bit.ly/2qosBSQ]
Posted by Vermont Public Radio on Wednesday, April 11, 2018
— VTDigger (@vtdigger) April 9, 2018
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