Joint Resolution

Rally- January 21st, 2017, Putney, Vermont, photo by Nancy Jane Lang
Rally- January 21st, 2017, Putney, Vermont

A proposed resolution by the Vermont Senate and House of Representatives:

Joint resolution expressing strong opposition to any governmental registry based on religion, race, or ethnicity and to any mass deportation of undocumented residents.

Whereas, the Declaration of Independence’s proclamation “that all men are created equal,”  has, on occasion, fallen short when members of religious, racial, or ethnic groups have been subjected to discriminatory federal policies, and

Whereas, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the far broader Immigration Act of 1924 are two of examples of federal laws that either prohibited or restricted immigration based on religion, race, or ethnicity, and

Whereas, at the start of World War II, Civilian Exclusion Order No. 34 directed the exclusion of persons of Japanese ancestry, including U.S. citizens, from the nation’s west coast and resulted in the relocation of Japanese Americans to internment (concentration) camps, and

Whereas, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld this order in an infamous decision, Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944), and although Congress enacted the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, Pub.L. No. 100–983, that apologized for this wartime policy, the potential of the federal government mistreating individuals based on their religion, race, or ethnicity still exists, and

Whereas, while campaigning, now President‑elect Donald Trump stated his support for mandatory registration of Muslims residing in the United States, seemingly to include American citizens, and

Whereas, although he quickly began to narrow, if at times ambiguously, the scope of his proposed registry, the mere fact that he would contemplate a religiously based national registry raises chilling comparisons to the relocation of Japanese Americans during World War II, and

Whereas, President-elect Trump also proposed while campaigning to deport all 11 million undocumented persons residing in the United States, and

Whereas, although he subsequently narrowed the deportation proposal to those undocumented persons who have committed crimes, a number he estimated at two to three million individuals, the concept still raises core constitutional issues of due process, and

Whereas, this proposal, depending on the ultimate scope of its coverage, has the potential to result in the deportation of hundreds of thousands of undocumented young persons who are living in this country through President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and

Whereas, the registry and mass deportation proposals run contrary to our nation’s most fundamental democratic principles, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly expresses its strong opposition to any governmental registry based on religion, race, or ethnicity and to any mass deportation of undocumented residents, and be it further

Resolved:  That the Secretary of State be directed to send a copy of this resolution to President-elect Donald Trump and the Vermont Congressional Delegation.

*Clerks Note: This text was read at the rally. It has not been minuted as approved by the Meeting, it will be considered at the next monthly Meeting.

January 10th Bill Introduction, Universal Background Checks

So far, 78 people have RSVPed for the January 10th Bill Introduction Press img_5784Conference. We need a lot more! If you haven’t yet RSVPed, please do so! We need you. If you’ve already signed up, convince a few friends to come with you. This is our chance to show lawmakers that public support for Universal Background Checks is strong — and that the polls numbers really do translate into in-person support. It’s the only way we’re going to be able to make progress.

A date for the Universal Background Check Bill Introduction and Press Conference has been set! This is where your presence in-person is invaluable. Mark your calendars now, and RSVP here!


January 10, 2017 at 12pm – 3pm



The schedule:
12:00pm – Lunch with your representatives in the Statehouse cafeteria
12:45pm – Press conference in the Cedar Creek Room
1:30pm – 3:00pm  – Strategic Organizing Meeting in Room 10

If you live far from Montpelier, don’t let yourself be daunted by the drive. We’ll have carpools coming from every corner of the state. Together we’ll show lawmakers how strong the support for Universal Background Checks is!

RSVP here!

We need to come together and show up!

Thank you,

Ann Braden

President, Gun Sense Vermont

Ann Braden

Background Checks aren’t a partisan issue

Hi Friends,

3 years ago: Few lawmakers felt comfortable talking about gun laws
Yesterday: Political leader after political leader stood up and called for Universal Background Checks.

August 4 Rally
Vermont Statehouse Rally

“This is a sea change,” said Senator Phil Baruth.
“It’s a new day,” said Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger.
“We’re not taking away any rights. We’re giving people their lives,” said House Speaker Shap Smith.
“Background Checks aren’t a partisan issue,” said Republican Representative Patti Komline.

One speaker after another. Senator Sirotkin, Matt Dunne, Sue Minter, Peter Galbraith, Kesha Ram, David Zuckerman, Senate President Pro-Tem John Campbell, Senator McCormack, Amy Brady of Voice for Vermont’s Children, and Clai Sommers, a powerful survivor. It was inspiring. And surreal.

This is a key turning point, but more work is needed. Tuesday’s primary will launch the final push to election day, and we need our volunteer teams ready to dive in and support candidates who support background checks. Many people signed up for their local teams at last night’s rally, but we need even more people to sign up if our teams are going to be strong enough.

Click HERE to Join your Local Team!

You can read more about the rally in the Burlington Free Press, in Seven Days, or in VTDigger. Thank you for all of you who came out and beared the hot sun! I bet you all left there like I did: dehydrated, but reinvigorated!

This is the time! This is our chance! Let’s make this happen!

Ann Braden

President, Gun Sense Vermont

Yesterday’s Senate Vote: The Takeaway

Dear Friends,GunsenseVT

It’d be great if the U.S. Senate could act in line with what 90% of Americans want, but yesterday wasn’t the day. At least in Vermont we can be proud that both our Senators voted in favor of universal background checks and the “No Fly, No Buy” bill. Below is a powerful press release about Senator Leahy’s leadership on this issue, as well as a C-Span clip of his remarks yesterday in the Senate chamber. He has heard our voices clearly.

However, the takeaway from yesterday is not that progress is impossible. Instead, it means that the need for action at the state level is even more important. This is the time for us to rally behind our local candidates for state rep who support universal background checks and push back against those who don’t. You can donate your time or donate money to the cause, but choose one and show your commitment to making real progress on this issue.

To donate your time and be part of a volunteer team in support of candidates (with letter writing, helping with mailings, visibility events, or phone calling), click HERE.

To donate money to the GunSenseVT Victory Fund PAC to help support these candidates financially, click HERE.

Together, we will show the senators blocking basic gun reform that their inaction only drives us to take more action. They do NOT have the final say about gun laws in this country.

Thank you!the-u.s.capitol-dome-96

Ann Braden

President, Gun Sense Vermont

Here is the C-SPAN clip from yesterday in the Senate (Senator Leahy’s remarks start around 23:20).

And here is the press release about Senator Leahy:

One Week After Mass Shooting In Orlando, Leahy Urges Senators To Support Common Sense Legislation To Make Our Communities Safer

. . . On The Senate Floor, Leahy Responds To Vermont Teen’s Heartfelt Letter After The Orlando Massacre

WASHINGTON (Monday, June 20, 2016) – A Vermont teen recently penned an open letter urging Senator Leahy and all Senators to “do something. Something big,” in response to the mass shooting in Orlando that took 49 innocent lives.  The letter was written by a Vermont teenager named Ella Staats, and it appeared in the Vermont Digger as part of the Young Writers Project.

On Monday, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) took to the Senate floor to respond to Ms. Staats and all Americans who are calling on Congress to reform the nation’s gun laws.

“I want you to know that I have been working for years to find practical solutions that will stop the gun violence that continues to touch every corner of our country.  But I bet that the last thing you want is a list of all the bills I have written or voted for but have not passed.  You want to know how we are going to overcome the well-funded opposition to passage of laws that will reduce gun violence,” Leahy said.

Leahy, who last week joined an unscheduled floor discussion led by Senate Democrats to force a debate and votes on gun safety issues, reiterated his call for action hours before the Senate was poised to consider legislation to close loopholes in the background check system and prevent terrorists from obtaining firearms.

“I hope the votes that I cast on your behalf tonight demonstrate that I hear you and I agree that we must act to prevent the next Orlando,” he said.  “Ella, thank you for doing that – for speaking out and for holding us accountable.”


In the wake of the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Leahy convened three high profile hearings of the Judiciary Committee on the issue of preventing gun violence.  The committee also reported four common sense bills under Leahy’s leadership including legislation to improve and expand the background check system, ban assault weapons, improve school safety, and combat the practice of straw purchasing and illegal trafficking in firearms.


Earlier this year, Leahy reintroduced the bipartisan Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act to make clear that the straw purchasing and trafficking of firearms are federal crimes.  The legislation strengthens ineffective laws exploited by criminals including the San Bernardino shooters to obtain firearms through a straw purchaser.


“In the wake of mass gun violence, whether the victims are members of the LGBT community, African American church parishioners, first graders in an elementary school, college students, military service members or others in our community, we are called as Americans to come together in solidarity,” Leahy said.  “We must come together to enact real solutions that will prevent further acts of senseless violence. 

Senator Leahy’s full remarks are available online.

Sr. Helen Prejean: “Dead Man Walking: The Journey Continues”

New Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

Sr. Helen Prejean: “Dead Man Walking: The Journey Continues”

Monday, March 7, 2016

Bishop Guertin High School, Nashua, NH
(Click here for directions)

7pm – 9pm

This event is free and open to the public



More news on yesterday’s vote:

NH 1 VIDEO: Tie vote in state Senate means death penalty repeal fails

Landrigan: State Senate deadlocks, effectively kills move to repeal the state’s death penalty

NHPR: N.H. Senate Deadlocks On Repealing Death Penalty

Restorative Justice Opportunities

Following you will find two upcoming restorative justice opportunities;

Pendle Hill

Beyond Crime and Punishment: Fostering Transformative Justice in Community

We envision a world where people who offend are not caged, exiled, and stigmatized for life, where public school children aren’t fodder for the school-to-prison pipeline, and where historic intergenerational wounds are acknowledged and healed.

Such a world is already in the making and looking for our support.

“Restorative justice is a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in a specific offence and to collectively identify and address harms, needs and obligations, in order to heal and put things as right as possible.” —Howard ZehrThe Little Book of Restorative Justice

A Conference for Inspiration, Education, Networking, and Action
Mar 10-13, 2016

Special guests: Kay Pranis, Joy DeGruy, Rev. Nelson and Joyce Johnson, Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz, and many others!

Click to register online.

Introduction to Restorative Practices in Schools


Click to visit.

Leahy Introduces BIPARTISAN Bill to Tackle Illegal Guns

I have exciting news! Today Senator Leahy introduced a new bill, the Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2016, and it already has strong bipartisan support! Please take a moment to read the press release below and then call Senator Leahy’s office at (202) 224-4242 to thank him for his leadership! (You can also contact Senator Leahy through his website at:


Thank Senator Leahy for working to address the problem of illegal firearms. As he says below, “In Vermont and across the country, we have seen firearms serve as currency for illegal drugs.  Addicts are at times directed to straw purchase firearms by dealers who could not pass a background check themselves,” Senator Leahy said.  “It is time to take action – and only Congress can fill the gaps in our laws.  Congress must not become so numb to tragedy after tragedy that we fail to fulfill our responsibility to legislate.”

Let Senator Leahy know that you agree!

Thank you!

Leahy & Collins Unveil Bipartisan Legislation to Combat Illegal Straw Purchasing and Firearms Trafficking

WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, Feb. 11, 2016) – Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced legislation on Thursday to combat the practice of straw purchasing and illegal trafficking in firearms.

The Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2016 responds to calls from law enforcement officials for more effective tools to investigate and deter straw purchasers and gun traffickers.

Currently, there is no law that explicitly makes straw purchasing a crime, and it is only unlawful to traffic a firearm if the transferor had actual knowledge that the firearm would be used in connection with a crime.  The recent terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California highlighted this gap; the rifles in that shooting were allegedly acquired through a straw purchaser.  Firearms trafficking is also an increasingly significant problem in New England, where the surge in opioid abuse has exposed a “guns for drugs” trade.

The bipartisan bill introduced by Leahy and Collins today would make clear that the straw purchasing and trafficking of firearms are federal crimes.

“In Vermont and across the country, we have seen firearms serve as currency for illegal drugs.  Addicts are at times directed to straw purchase firearms by dealers who could not pass a background check themselves,” Senator Leahy said.  “It is time to take action – and only Congress can fill the gaps in our laws.  Congress must not become so numb to tragedy after tragedy that we fail to fulfill our responsibility to legislate.”

“Our bill would provide law enforcement with an effective tool to fight the violence that too often goes hand in hand with drug trafficking,” said Senator Collins. “Straw purchasing and the trafficking of firearms put guns directly in the hands of drug dealers and violent criminals who smuggle heroin into Maine.”

The bill does not affect lawful purchases from federal firearms licensees, nor does it prohibit the innocent transfer of a firearm as a gift, or in relation to a legitimate raffle, auction or contest.  The measure is supported by numerous law enforcement organizations, including the National Fraternal Order of Police, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the National Tactical Officers Association, the National District Attorneys Association, and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

A similar version of the Leahy-Collins legislation drew the support of a bipartisan majority of the Senate in 2013.

Text of the Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2016 is available online.  A one-page summary of the bill is also available online. Leahy’s full remarks can be found here.

Interfaith Criminal Justice Coalition Call


Dear Friends,

Time is running out for sentencing reform. As election season heats up, there are only a few months left to help the people, families, and communities affected by excessive and costly prison sentences. This month, thousands of people across the country are making a big push for sentencing reform legislation, before Congress heads home to campaign.

This issue is so important — and so urgent — that the White House will be joining the Interfaith Criminal Justice Coalition’s national conference call on mass incarceration. I’ll be co-hosting the call with the coalition.

Please join us on Tuesday, February 9 at 5:00 p.m. EST. Register now to participate.

On the call, you’ll hear why the faith voice is so important right now and on this issue. We’ll take your questions and give you ways to get involved.

For the moment, there’s a bipartisan consensus that mandatory minimum sentences must change — but it won’t last for long. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123) needs to move forward soon. I hope you’ll join me for this timely call.


Amelia Kegan
Legislative Director
Domestic Policy