a presentation of Sandglass Theater and Next Stage Arts Project
3 years ago: Few lawmakers felt comfortable talking about gun laws
“This is a sea change,” said Senator Phil Baruth.
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.
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!
President, Gun Sense Vermont
Fourth sign – this one painted wood – is hung at Putney (VT) Friends Meeting after third sign vandalized. Friends wrote a letter inviting a conversation with whomever is destroying our signs.
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.
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”
Monday, March 7, 2016
Bishop Guertin High School, Nashua, NH
7pm – 9pm
This event is free and open to the public
PLEASE SHARE WIDELY
More news on yesterday’s vote:
Following you will find two upcoming restorative justice opportunities;
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 Zehr, The 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!
Introduction to Restorative Practices in Schools
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: https://www.leahy.senate.gov/contact.)
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!
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.
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.
Open Letter In Support of Black Lives Matter
“Those of us who have grown up with a white identity in America have a particular challenge in that we have been conditioned not to notice the system of racism and white privilege. Our well intentioned attempts at color-blindness can have the unfortunate result of blinding us to the system of racism in which we unwittingly participate.”
Excerpted from the Minute on Racism ~ Approved at New England Yearly Meeting Sessions 2003
Putney Friends Meeting, in solidarity with the “BLACK LIVES MATTER” movement, has erected a sign in front of the Putney Friends Meeting house on Route 5 in Putney, Vermont. What’s important for us is that it’s not just a sign, not just a statement, it’s a commitment to join with others in doing the work we need to do.
“BLACK LIVES MATTER” is a local movement as well as a national movement. Even in Vermont people of color are disproportionately singled out, treated with suspicion and treated as outsiders. When Putney Friends Meeting agreed to put up the sign, we intended it for the whole community. Yes, we do hope that people of color will know our intentions to be in solidarity, to honor their leadership and support their efforts. And Putney Friends Meeting also wants to remind ourselves and others that this means being actively involved in whatever ways we can to make our Quaker Meeting and our community as a whole a part of the change that needs to happen.
Because Vermont is one of the least racially diverse States, we have different challenges than States with more residents of color. This means exploring the opportunities to support and learn from those who are most affected by racism and bias. All Vermonters are affected in a variety of ways. There are programs and activities that help people learn about how racism and white privilege exist everywhere and how everyone is involved. The goal is to become a community that is truly welcoming, open and affirming, where anyone can come and know they are valued and safe.
Putney Friends Meeting looks forward to working with other religious communities, groups and individuals to communicate and share what they are doing, engage in further actions, and challenge each other to do effective organizing.
Carol Forsythe, Clerk~ Putney Friends Meeting
P.O. Box 381, Putney, Vermont 05346
You can send your contribution to Migrant Justice, 294 N. Winooski Ave. Burlington, VT 05401, or donate online at:www.migrantjustice.org.
A silent vigil makes Trump part of our strategy.
Vermont Action for Peace
Producer & Host – Gathering Peace
WGDR 91.1 FM WGDH 91.7 FM
Thank you for this message. You might be interested to know that there are currently over 700 people signed on to some version of silent presence outside the Flynn Theater, starting at 5:00 p.m. in the park. Many of us will wear black or dark clothing with a white paper rose pinned over our hearts.
A few days ago, I started organizing this event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1551016875218954/
In collaboration with two other events with similar missions, it seems we have arrived at a consensus that a silent, compassionate presence rooted in love is our preferred method. I cannot, of course, control the outcome, but it currently seems that there will be at least 700 people gathered silently in the park, to be joined by another 100 walking out from within the theater. We are also to be joined by members of the Vermont Interfaith Action group.
I cannot tell you how inspired I am that this may in fact come to pass. Thank you, Joseph, for your wise words. You are not alone: their sentiment has taken root, and is shared by many.
In the Light,
(South Starksboro Meeting)