|Dear Putney Friends Meeting —
This past week was one for the record books in the Vermont legislature. From the start of the week, when more than 200 GunSense VT supporters rallied on the steps of the State House, to the end of the week, when the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to allow S. 221 (Extreme Risk Protection Order) to come before the Senate for a vote, the State House was buzzing with activity around gun violence prevention.
Dozens of middle and high school students spoke out powerfully about the fear that they live with and demanded that lawmakers and Governor Scott take steps to help reduce gun violence.
Legislators, and particularly the Senate Judiciary Committee, worked nearly around the clock in some cases to craft meaningful legislation.
The result is that we have the first opportunity in years to pass legislation that will truly help keep guns out of the wrong hands.
Both bills; S.221 (extreme risk protection order) and H221 (removing weapons from a person arrested or cited for domestic assault) passed through the Judiciary Committee this week and are moving to the Senate floor for vote on Wednesday. Bill S.6 (universal background checks) is being brought to the Senate floor for debate as an amendment.
This week please call and email your Senators (Link to Senate Contact Info.) and ask them to pass Senate bill 221, house bill 422 and Universal Background checks. THESE EMAILS AND PHONE CALLS WORK. We hear from legislators, staffers, and lobbyists that your effort and energy are driving the change that we are seeing. When they reach the House we will ask you to reach out to your Representatives.
We also ask you to please take a moment to thank SJC Chairman Dick Sears for working diligently on S. 221 and making it a strong and meaningful piece of legislation. We are also grateful to Governor Phil Scott for acknowledging that any conversation around public safety must include a conversation about guns and who should own them. This constitutes a significant shift in his position, a rare thing to see in political leaders today.
Finally, we ask again for your financial support. The NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action has activated their members in Vermont. They are saying that “most of these bills are being pushed by large out-of-state gun control groups who are trying to create a solution which simply does not exist in Vermont.” This is simply not true! We are a grass-roots organization of Vermonters who want to keep guns out of the wrong hands. We are asking for your donations so we can fight back!
Elissa Pine, GunSenseVT
Change is coming! The 2018 session of the Vermont Legislature opened last week, and we are excited to see THREE separate bills proposing common-sense measures to prevent gun violence in Vermont (see details below).
Things are moving fast, and we must respond quickly and in great numbers to see these bills move forward.
We are mobilizing to turn out in force, and we need YOU there.
It is time to stand up, make our voices heard, and demand that politicians take action.
January 30, 2018
Vermont State House
115 State St., Montpelier
We are chartering buses from Burlington, Brattleboro, and White River Junction.
For the BURLINGTON BUS: email firstname.lastname@example.org
For the BRATTLEBORO BUS: email email@example.com
For the WHITE RIVER JUNCTION BUS: email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you NEED a ride or can OFFER a ride, please email email@example.com.
We will make more information available regarding arrival times and meeting places as it becomes available.
We are not asking people to wear any specific colors or identifying clothing. Instead, we will provide green (gun violence prevention) and purple (domestic violence prevention) ribbons, as well as buttons.
We are still looking for people to TESTIFY, but it is equally important that we have as many supporters as possible in the audience. Simply being there will send a powerful message. If you want to testify by giving a brief (2 minute max.) statement, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
S.6: This bill proposes to require that a background check be conducted on the proposed transferee before a firearm may be transferred unless the transfer is between immediate family members, by or to a law enforcement agency, or by or to a law enforcement officer or member of the U.S. Armed Forces acting within the course of his or her official duties.
Remove weapons from person cited for domestic assault
H. 422: This bill proposes to require a law enforcement officer to confiscate a dangerous or deadly weapon from a person who is arrested or cited for domestic assault if the weapon is (1) in the immediate possession or control of the person being arrested or cited; (2) in plain view of the officer; or (3) discovered during a consensual search.This has been passed by the House and will go to the Senate.
Extreme Risk Protection Order
S.221: This bill proposes to establish a procedure for a law enforcement officer to obtain an extreme risk protection order. The order would prohibit a person from possessing a firearm for up to one year if the Family Division of the Superior Court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the person poses a significant danger of causing injury to himself or herself or another person by purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm or by having a firearm within the person’s custody or control.
GunSense Vermont is a growing coalition of concerned citizens–gun owners, non gun owners, Democrats, Republicans, Progressives, Independents, and more–who understand that there is no other threat to public safety in the United States that looms as large as gun violence. GunSense Vermont advocates for universal background check legislation and other measures that will keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.
Brattleboro, VT: On Monday, January 15th at 5:30 there will be a celebration in honor of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Centre Congregational Church, 193 Main St. in Brattleboro. The service will include and film short and readings from Dr. King, an update from state representative Becca Balint regarding initiatives being taken around the state and in the legislature, spirituals by local musicians and a community choir and end with the traditional lighting of a candle by everyone in attendance. Singers of all ages and abilities are encouraged to come to the church at 4:30 to rehearse songs for the service.
This event is sponsored by the Brattleboro Area Interfaith Leadership Alliance and is a wonderful opportunity for people of all ages, faiths, races and ethnicities to come together to remember the work of Dr King, to celebrate all that unites us and to learn about local community organizations working against racism. Admission is free, but a good will donation will be taken with proceeds shared between the Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity and the Root Social Justice Center.
A community gathering will follow the celebration on the lower level of the church. The Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity, the Root Social Justice Center, the NAACP of Southern Vermont and Black Lives Matter Vermont will all have information and make short presentations on how people can be involved locally to work against racism.
For more information about these events please contact Guilford Community Church, U.C.C. at (802) 257-2776.
As many of you know, in 2013 an interfaith group of religious leaders, including the Clerk of the Burlington Friends Meeting, asked the City of Burlington to oppose the basing of the F-35 fighter/bomber at Burlington International Airport, scheduled for 2020. Since that time, the noise of other military aircraft has forced the demolition of 200 owner-occupied homes around the runway and the new plane will place 3,000 additional homes in jeopardy due to noise and heightened crash risk. This at a time when rents are rising beyond the means of those with minimum wages and the homeless increasingly camp in the wooded areas of Chittenden County.
Why is opposition to the basing of the F-35 of significance to Quakers? Through FCNL we have long sought a reduction in military spending and a shift of funds to meet our great social needs in education, healthcare, infrastructure, job development, and environmental stewardship. At $1.4 trillion over 40 years, this war machine represents a considerable portion of the defense budget, $700 for the coming year, and will continue to do so in future years making social priorities impossible to achieve. Furthermore, our 2016 NEYM Minute on Climate Change affirmed that fossil fuel use threatened life as we know it on earth, https://neym.org/news/2016-yearly-meeting-climate-change. The F-35 is not only a huge user of fossil fuel, its deployment in the Middle East has been in defense of our unfettered access to petroleum.
We affirm that preparation for war before all other social goals isungodly. We affirm that peace is possible.
Charles Simpson, Co-clerk, Burlington Monthly Meeting
|Putney Friends Meeting —
GunSense VT’s founder and fiercest gun violence prevention warrior, Ann Braden, has announced that she will be stepping back from the organization to pursue two incredible opportunities: writing and running for public office. A prolific and talented author, Ann has had her middle grade novel accepted for publication by Sky Pony Press. It is due out in Fall, 2018. Additionally, Ann has been accepted into the Emerge Vermont program which trains Democratic women candidates, and is planning to run for office in her home district of Windham County.
“I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished with GunSense VT, and I’m humbled by the passion and energy of its supporters. From simply gathering names on a petition to bringing gun violence prevention legislation to the Governor’s desk, we’ve grown by leaps and bounds over the past five years,” states Ann. “I know that GunSense is well-positioned to continue the fight for common sense gun legislation in Vermont.”
The Board of GunSense VT and all of Vermont’s citizens owe Ann a debt of gratitude for opening the door to conversations and legislation that will ultimately improve public safety for all Vermonters.
As GunSense VT looks to the future, we will be growing our capacity and making improvements to our communications to continue the fight for universal background checks. Seasoned gun violence prevention activist and farmer Clai Lasher-Sommers is taking the helm as Acting Executive Director. Born in Vermont, and now living just over the border in New Hampshire, she is a survivor of gun violence, knows the issue inside and out on the personal level and national stage, and brings a fearless commitment to the cause. The GunSense VT Board will be holding a day-long retreat in January to identify priorities as we enter the 2018 legislative session.
Clai will be happy to hear from you @ email@example.com
“My heart breaks for Sutherland Springs. Just like it still does for Las Vegas. And Orlando. And Charleston. And Aurora. And Blacksburg. And Newtown. Just like it does every night for Chicago. And New Orleans. And Baltimore. And Bridgeport. The terrifying fact is that no one is safe so long as Congress chooses to do absolutely nothing in the face of this epidemic. The time is now for Congress to shed its cowardly cover and do something.”
– Senator Chris Murphy, (D) Connecticut
We were outraged by the news out of Sutherland Springs, Texas. On Sunday a man armed with a Ruger AR-556 assault rifle ended 27 lives, and shattered countless others, at a place of worship. Once again, we are faced with massacres happening in places that are supposed to be safe. No one should feel apprehension while worshipping, going to school, going to the movies, shopping, or doing any of the other things that we do in our daily lives.
The NRA and the politicians whom they own will spout the same senseless sentiment: “It’s not the time to talk about guns.” We know differently.It is way past time to talk about guns. And for the 27 people killed in Texas and the 13,254* other people killed by guns this year, it is too late. Your voice has the power to effect change. Keep calling. Keep writing. Keep demanding action on gun safety legislation.
Take one of these actions today. Once you take one action it becomes easier to do two, or do three. Whatever you can do will make a difference.
1. Call Senators Sanders and Leahy and tell them that you support universal background checks, and you expect them to as well. Tell them to stand up with Chris Murphy and make this a bipartisan issue. Gun violence affects all Americans. It will take all of our representatives working together to make a change.
Senator Bernie Sanders: 800-339-9834
Senator Patrick Leahy: 800-642-3193
2. Call Governor Phil Scott and tell him Vermont’s lack of gun laws are shameful. Right now, there’s nothing preventing someone with a history of violence from buying a gun in Vermont without a background check from a private seller. Tell the Governor that Vermonters deserve better!
Governor Phil Scott: 802-828-3333
3. Please make a donation to GunSense VT, which is at the forefront of fighting for universal background checks in Vermont. Your donation today will help us continue our work for gun safe legislation in Vermont.
5. Make sure you know who your state legislators are and find out where they stand on gun violence prevention. Visit legislature.vermont.gov to find your legislators and see their voting records.
6. Remember that a significant majority of deaths by firearm are suicides. Visit the website of the Vermont Suicide Prevention Center for information and resources. Familiarize yourself with the risk factors, which can include depression, substance abuse, family violence, and feelings of isolation (especially among older Vermonters), and having firearms in the home.
7. Most importantly, look out for one another. Get to know your neighbors. Spend a few more minutes in conversation. Meet someone in person for coffee. We all need more human connection, especially now.
*The Gun Violence Archive: www.gunviolencearchive.org
Newtown Vigils: Help shine a light on gun violence in December
This December 14 marks the five-year anniversary of one of the most heartbreaking tragedies this nation has ever known: the murder of 20 young children and 6 educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Since that horrific day, we have also known the pain of other high-profile mass shootings. Charleston. San Bernardino. Orlando. Las Vegas. Texas. The list goes on.
This December, we invite you to recall all victims and survivors of gun violence: those who have died, those still living, and those who still live with the pain of loss. Those who have been threatened with guns and traumatized by violent acts, Those who still live with abuse and threats in homes where there are guns.
Vigils to remember victims of gun violence are being held statewide. Please consider organizing one in your community!
Organizing a vigil need not be stressful or time consuming. It can be as large or as small, as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. You can organize a group to stand silently with candles in front of your town hall, or you can organize speakers in your local library or house of worship. It’s up to you, and GunSense is here to help.
Please contact Elissa at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are holding a vigil or if you would like to organize one.
We have resources to share, and we want to help you publicize your event (and make sure that you are counted nationally). Connect with GunSense today!
All the Best,
Elissa Pine, GunSenseVT
|GunSenseVT · PO Box 2533, Brattleboro, VT 05303, United States|
|“Our attention this morning is focused on Sandy Hook…”
“Our attention this morning is focused on Orlando…”
“Our attention this morning is focused on Las Vegas…”
Who among us doesn’t hold his or her breath when
turning on the TV or radio and hearing a story that leads with those words? Tragically, Monday morning was such a morning.
To people who lost loved ones in the Las Vegas massacre, to witnesses traumatized by the violence, to first responders who had to deal with unimaginable scenes, to the injured whose wounds may never fully heal, we are sending strength.
To the politicians who stand by, shooting after shooting, doing nothing to effect change, we are sending the message:
Even if our US Senators and Representatives are supportive of gun violence prevention measures, they still need to hear from you.
Please contact your elected officials today with the message:
“Thoughts and prayers are not enough. We are counting on you to address this public health crisis and keep guns out of the wrong hands.”
Vermont’s Governor Phil Scott has long held that Vermont’s extremely lax gun laws are adequate. We urge Vermont residents to contact Governor Scott with the message:
“Vermont is not an island. We are part of a nation that is experiencing an unprecedented public health crisis in the form of gun violence. We must do our part by passing universal background check legislation in Vermont now.”
Please also consider writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. A simple letter summarizing your reaction to this tragedy and encouraging legislative action can send a powerful message to lawmakers and fellow Vermonters.
It is easy at times like this to feel utterly defeated, but we owe it to all those who suffer to keep fighting for common sense gun legislation. GunSense Vermont continues to champion the much needed goal of background checks for every gun sold in our state.
Thank you for joining us in the fight.
-Your GunSense VT Leadership Team
p.s.–If you are looking for a way to directly support those impacted by the violence in Las Vegas, we suggest:
The National Compassion Fund (directly distributes donations from the public to victims of mass crime)
Elissa Pine, GunSenseVT