Time to Act

Dear Putney Friends Meeting —

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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!


Clai Lasher-Sommers
Executive Director

Elissa Pine, GunSenseVT
Board President

Immigrant communities seeking justice

afsc logo

 Dear Friends

Earlier this week, we asked you to contact your senators to help stop billions of dollars in additional spending for border enforcement, advocate for paths to citizenship, and support policies that keep families together.

Yesterday the Senate voted on four problematic immigration proposals that would have deeply impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of immigrants. I’m writing to let you know that thanks to your calls and advocacy, along with those of immigrant advocates around the country, all four proposals were defeated in the Senate. We are so grateful to everyone who helped send a message in this critical time!

We will continue to send you updates and opportunities in the coming days and weeks as we organize together to support Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients who are in danger of losing their status and the millions of immigrants who are still seeking a pathway to citizenship.

Thanks again for standing with immigrant communities in seeking justice for all!
With gratitude,
Kristin Kumpf
Director of Human Migration and Mobility, AFSC

American Friends Service Committee
1501 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
United States

Support Gun Violence Protection bills before the Vermont legislature

“A Public Hearing on three legislative bills on Domestic Violence and Gun Violence Protection” at The Statehouse in Montpelier Tuesday January 30 at 5:30 PM

How you can help if you can’t attend………
You can still send a strong message right from your phone
It’s simple and it’s easy.

Call the Sargeant at Arms at The State House in Montpelier at 802-828-2228
Here is the message YOU want delivered to your State Representative and your State Senators:
“Please support Gun Violence Protection bills before the Vermont legislature: House Bill 422 and Senate Bills: 6 and 221”

Please tell your family members and friends to call the Sargeant at Arms as well. The gun lobby is hoping you and your friends won’t do anything .

You can go for free by bus; FROM Brattleboro or Putney
The location is: Brattleboro Transportation Center The time leaving is: LEAVING at 2:00 PM

RETURNING at 10:00PM (planning a stop at the Putney Inn as well)

We have secured The Ballroom at the Capitol Plaza- Capitol Hotel across from the State House to meet in before the hearing. We will be briefed, have light snacks, and walk over together in groups for the hearing.

Let Elissa know who is coming and would like to take the bus: elissa@gunsensevt.org

If ever there were a time to show up for gun violence prevention in Vermont, this is it.




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
5:30 p.m.
Vermont State House
115 State St., Montpelier


We are chartering buses from Burlington, Brattleboro, and White River Junction.

For the BURLINGTON BUS: email sharon@gunsensevt.org

For the BRATTLEBORO BUS: email elissa@gunsensevt.org

For the WHITE RIVER JUNCTION BUS: email kathleen@gunsensevt.org

If you NEED a ride or can OFFER a ride, please email elissa@gunsensevt.org.


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 clai@gunsensevt.org.



Background checks
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
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.


If ever there were a time to show up for gun violence prevention in Vermont, this is it.

We ask you to do whatever you can to get yourself (and a few friends) to the State House on January 30.
Together we can do this.



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.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration and Community Event


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.


Embraced by the Mystery

Dear Friends,NEYM-web
Have you ever had the experience of being in meeting for worship, wondering whether a message that’s rising within you in the stillness is for you to speak, and then hearing the same message—maybe in different words—given through the voice of another Friend?

I had an experience like that this week, and I wanted to share that message with you, in the words in which I heard it expressed.

This ministry comes to us through the Puente de Amigos, our yearly meeting’s decades-long “Bridge of Love” between Friends in New England and Cuba.

In the past year, the denial by the U.S. government of visas for religious visitation has barred Cuban Friends from being able to attend New England Yearly Meeting Annual Sessions. In the current political climate of anti-immigrant sentiment, hatred, and fear, this is just one glimpse of the ways that so many members of our human family are disconnected from one another and denied full recognition of their worth and dignity as children of God. I’m mindful that many of you receiving this message have your own very personal stories to share, either of your own experience with this disconnection and denial, or in accompanying those most vulnerable in these times. May the “single star of Hope” this message carries shine for all of us.

Cuban Friend and pastoral minister Kirenia Criado of Havana Friends Meeting—whom many Friends may remember from her visit and message to Annual Sessions—offers a prayer for this season in our world (English translation follows the original Spanish).

As Friends in both our yearly meetings seek ways to re-open the doors of visitation between us, and as our presiding clerk Fritz Weiss (Hanover [NH] Meeting) and several other New England Friends prepare to travel to Cuba Yearly Meeting in February, I am grateful that the ministry of this Cuban Friend reaches out to us in spirit, though we cannot be together in person.

Y pensar que en Tus brazos soy así como vuelves: criatura frágil y expuesta, abrazada por el misterio de un Amor inexplicable.

Y pensar que en Tu mundo también me le asemejo: vivir de cara al vacío inmenso prendiendo la esperanza de una solita estrella es, sin dudas, mi signo.

Y pensar que a pesar de toda esta precariedad que somos, de tanto mundo roto e incompleto, no nos faltas…

regresas cada vez al vulnerable espacio de esta Vida, renaces para hacernos creer que sí es posible que el Amor aparezca, se haga carne y presencia, por ese Amor que das y eres Tú mismo.

Que el Misterio de la Vida que renace en los lugares más inesperados nos inunde de bien…
Abrazo a cada quien, en la Esperanza…

– Kirenia


And to think that in Your arms I am as you are when you return to us: a fragile and vulnerable child, embraced by the mystery of an inexplicable Love.

And to think that in Your world I also resemble You: facing the immense emptiness by lighting a single star of Hope, which is, without doubt, my sign.

And to think that in spite of all the precariousness of our broken and incomplete world, you never fail us …

You return each time to this Life, you are reborn to make us believe that, yes, it is possible for Love to appear, to become flesh and presence, because of your great Love for us, you who are Love itself.

May the Mystery of Life that is reborn in the most unexpected places fill us with good.

I embrace you all, in Hope…


In that same Hope,

Noah Merrill
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)

In This Issue:

We affirm that peace is possible

Dear Northwest Quarter of New England Yearly Meeting:

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.iu-1.jpeg

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.

The F-35 is now deployed to Japan and is being used to provoke and intimidate North Korea, a nuclear power, thus risking catastrophic war. Yet NEYM’s Faith and Practice states, “Because of the incomparable evil presented by the threat of nuclear war, we are moved to bear a passionate witness for life and peace.”
Burlington residents, including many Quakers, are trying to place the question of basing the F-35 near Vermont’s largest population center on the city ballot for Town Meeting Day, March 6, 2018. We have have created this video for Media and Democracy, our public access channel, to explain our reasoning.

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

Gunsense VT Update

Putney Friends Meeting — GunsenseVT

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 @ clai@gunsensevt.org

“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.

4. Make sure to follow @GunSenseVT on Twitter, and GunSense on Facebook and share our posts. When we raise our voices, even in the virtual world, it encourages others to raise theirs.

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 elissa@gunsensevt.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