This weekend’s attack in Orlando was equally heartbreaking and infuriating. While we mourn those lost, it’s right to take a serious look at policy steps that could be taken to help prevent future atrocities.
I’m a pragmatist, and I believe we must take action that will make a real difference, not just a rhetorical impact. First, we absolutely must implement universal background checks. Second, we must ban people on the terrorist watch list, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill from buying guns, and we must crack down on straw purchases.
We in Vermont have a proud history of responsible gun ownership. While it’s tempting to think of our state as separate from the atrocities we’ve witnessed in Orlando, San Bernadino and Charleston, we have a responsibility to remember the fact that we are more connected than ever before, and to ensure our state laws preserve our way of life while protecting our neighbors, both in Vermont and in other states. I agree with President Obama that it’s time to approach this as a public health issue, and to craft policy solutions that save lives.
Ultimately, American gun policy must come from the federal government, because a patchwork of 50 different policies leaves all Americans vulnerable. If Congress continues to block a real, thoughtful conversation on this issue and refuses to take action, Vermont will have no choice but to move on impactful policies that preserve a responsible person’s right to own and use guns for hunting, sporting and self defense, while keeping guns out of the hands of those whose only goal is to use them to murder and terrorize law abiding people.