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.

Stop the Gun Riders!

Friends, GunsenseVT

First of all, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who made it out to our celebration this past weekend. It was fabulous to see everyone, celebrate our accomplishments and look forward to our next steps as a growing and influential grassroots movement for commonsense gun laws in Vermont.While our work has primarily been focused on Vermont-based policies, I am also writing to bring your attention to something that is happening in the US Senate right now.

Recently, the House of Representatives approved their version of their CJS Appropriations Act for FY2016 (H.R. 2578).  In the process, 11 so-called “gun riders” were added to their bill, and today, the Senate Appropriations Committee is taking up this piece of legislation.

If approved, the riders would:

  • Terminate the long gun reporting program which the ATF is using to prevent gun trafficking in those four states bordering Mexico.
  • Prevent the ATF from regulating dangerous armor piercing ammunition.
  • Prevent the ATF from strengthening the regulations on gun trusts so that local law enforcement can determine who in their communities is able to obtain fully automatic machine guns.
  • Reinstate a program ended by Congress over 20 years ago that allows formerly convicted violent felons to obtain dangerous firearms.

These gun-related riders have been added to the House legislation without open debate. Unless the Senate hears from you, these dangerous provisions will make it into the final version of the law, threatening community safety, here and around the country. We need to make it easier, not harder, for the ATF to do its job!

Our colleagues at the Center for American Progress and the States United to Prevent Gun Violence have made it easy for GunSenseVT supporters to speak up on this issue — particularly since Senator Leahy is a key member on the Appropriations Committee that is considering this bill. Simply contact Senator Leahy using this form and ask him NOT to include these bad gun riders in their CJS bill. These riders will only benefit criminals while tying the hands of law enforcement trying to reduce gun violence.

Thanks for taking a minute to speak out on this important subject. I hope you are enjoying this beautiful early summer weather!

Ann

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

Today is the day!

Dear Putney Friends,

Thank you SO much for the work you have done leading up to today’s vote. What a mountain we have climbed together!!

Today at 1pm the House of Representatives will debate S. 141 and then vote. I encourage you to join us at the Statehouse and bear witness. This is huge.

If possible, it’s best to come early so you’re able to take your seats at 12:30 (you can have lunch beforehand in the Statehouse cafeteria if you like). The Gun Owners of VT folks will be trying to turn out in force, so plan to be calm and respectful. Along those lines, if the vote does, in fact, go our way, it’s important not to celebrate outwardly in the chamber (applause, etc.) because we wouldn’t want it to seem like gloating. And anyway, if we’re successful, the most important thing will be to soak it in so that you remember at your core what your hard work can accomplish!

The House Judiciary Committee spent all last week taking testimony on S. 141, and this morning they are poised to vote it out of committee. This means that the bill will go straight to the House Floor for a full House vote as soon as Thursday, so it’s critical to call your reps and voice your support now!

If you aren’t able to make it in person today, call the Sergeant-at-Arms office at the Statehouse at 802-828-2228 or 1-800-322-5616.

It’ll take just minutes to leave a message for your representative encouraging them to support S. 141 to help keep guns out of the wrong hands, but it can make all the difference!

GunsenseVTEven if you know your representative is supportive, call them to say thank you. As we go into the floor vote, it is critical that representatives feel the support that exists for this bill in their district. If you’re not sure who your representative is, click here, and if you want more guidance about what to say when you call, click here.

Today is the day!
Ann

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