Keeping Vermont Safer

Dear Putney Friends Meeting,

Earlier today, Governor Phil Scott signed into law a trio of bills that will help keep Vermont safer. We are very grateful to the Governor and to the legislative leaders who recognized the risk that gun violence poses to Vermont and championed these bills.

 

(photo courtesy of Greg Moschetti)

 

We are also grateful to you and all of our supporters who have shown up time and again over the past five years, marching, petitioning, donating, testifying, and emailing and calling lawmakers again and again. Some of you have done this work and told your stories while reliving your own traumatic histories, and yet you persisted because you understood the cost of staying silent.

Every phone call, every trip to Montpelier, every difficult conversation, and every testimony paid off today.

Thanks to you, Vermont is now a state where…

  • background checks are required for most private gun sales
  • gun buyers must be 21 years old (with some exceptions)
  • bump stocks are banned
  • large-capacity magazines are prohibited
  • law enforcement can temporarily remove guns from the scene of a domestic assault to keep victims safer
  • courts can issue an order to help protect people deemed to be at extreme risk of harming themselves or others by temporarily restricting access to guns

I would be remiss if I didn’t note that the conversation began to change when young people organized and demanded to be heard. Today, their voices and the voices of survivors are taking center stage, as they should, and they are changing this movement. We are privileged to work alongside them and we are grateful for the energy and hopefulness that they bring.

While it is true that the passing of these laws came as a result of passion and dedication, it also has come at the unthinkable cost of far too many lives. I have often said that I wish I could stop doing this work, but I simply can’t as long as so many people are still dying from gun violence and so many more are living as survivors.

I hope, after taking a moment to breathe and appreciate the enormity of what has happened, that you will commit to moving forward with us.

Your donation today will affirm that you will not stop fighting the epidemic of gun violence. We all still have a part to play, here in Vermont and nationally.

Please make a gift to GunSense Vermont so that we can continue to advocate for gun violence prevention stand by those politicians who fought to pass the bills that were signed today.

Thank you for all that you have done to get us here, and thank you for committing to a more compassionate and peaceful future.

Gratefully,

Clai Lasher-Sommers
Executive Director

p.s. — As Governor Scott noted in his remarks today, “Knowing that there will always be more work to do, today we chose to try.” We hope that you’ll stand with us as we keep trying–and succeeding–in this difficult and necessary work.
http://www.gunsensevt.org/

We’ve all been doing some heavy lifting

GunSenseVT
Putney Friends Meeting —

We know we’ve been asking a lot from our supporters these past few weeks. Getting these gun violence prevention bills passed is no mean feat, and we’ve all been doing some heavy lifting.

  • We believe that the final vote on S.55 (background checks) will start TOMORROW, 3/30, at 11:30.

  • We must be there, letting our Senators know that we support their YES vote!

Can you come to the Senate chamber starting at 9:30? Bring a book. Bring a friend. Once you have a seat, take turns spelling each other and enjoy some coffee in the cafeteria.

PLEASE RSVP HERE.

We are so close to passing this bill. We must draw on one another’s energy for this final push.

Thank you for being there,
Clai

http://www.gunsensevt.org/

Sen. Jeanette White showing some resistance to gun legislation

Dear Putney Friends Meeting — GunsenseVT

Thank you for all that you’ve done in support of gun violence prevention, and particularly in support of S.55 (background checks).

The bill is on its way, but we are not there yet.

Sen. Jeanette White is showing some resistance to the changes approved by the House yesterday. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, she has a lot of influence over what happens with this bill.

Please contact Sen. White today and ask her to approve the changes to S.55 and vote YES.

jwhite@leg.state.vt.us

(802) 387-4379

Or call the State House and leave a message for her at 802-828-2228.

 

With great thanks for your support,

Clai Lasher-Sommers
Executive Director

Together, we are making a difference

Dear Friends,GunsenseVT
Together, we are making a difference. Gun violence prevention is a top priority in the state capital right now and this historic shift is being driven by the voices of Vermonters calling for change.  
 
Governor Phil Scott took a courageous step when, in response to a school school threat in Fair Haven, VT, he changed his position and called for immediate passage of gun violence prevention reforms. He needs to hear your voice of support, now. 
 
Please call his switchboard, (802)-828-3333, to leave a message thanking him for his leadership and urging him to keep it up.
 
The gun lobby wants the Governor to back down. Don’t let them drown the majority of Vermonters’ voices out.
 
Please call the Governor’s message line today at (802)-828-3333.

Clai Lasher-Sommers

Executive Director
http://www.gunsensevt.org/

Time to Act

Dear Putney Friends Meeting —

Students_2018.png           Speakers_2018.png

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!

Gratefully,

Clai Lasher-Sommers
Executive Director

Elissa Pine, GunSenseVT
Board President
http://www.gunsensevt.org/

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

PUBLIC HEARING, JANUARY 30, 2018

5:30 PM, VERMONT STATE HOUSE

THREE GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION BILLS NEED YOUR SUPPORT
NOW IS THE TIME FOR GUN SENSE IN VERMONT. PLEDGE TO SHOW UP!

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.

Click here to PLEDGE TO BE THERE ON JANUARY 30.

 

HEARING DETAILS

GunsenseVT

January 30, 2018
5:30 p.m.
Vermont State House
115 State St., Montpelier

GETTING THERE

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.

BEING THERE

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.

 

THE BILLS

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
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.

 

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.

 


GUNSENSEVT: WORKING TOGETHER
FOR GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION

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.

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
http://www.gunsensevt.org/

GunSenseVT · PO Box 2533, Brattleboro, VT 05303, United States

This is not normal. This is not okay.  

 

GunsenseVT“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:

We should not have to live in fear every time we or our loved ones leave the house for school, for a concert, for a movie, for work.

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
http://www.gunsensevt.org/

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!

WHEN

January 10, 2017 at 12pm – 3pm

WHERE

Statehouse

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

Ann Braden

President, Gun Sense Vermont

Ann Braden
http://www.gunsensevt.org/

Leahy Introduces BIPARTISAN Bill to Tackle Illegal Guns

Friends,
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.)

GunsenseVT

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!
Ann

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.