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Adrian: Boldly Going

A couple of years ago, voters in Burlington overwhelmingly supported a local measure that would have restricted firearms in Burlington bars, required safe firearm storage within the city, and made it easier for police to confiscate guns in cases involving suspected domestic abuse. The legislature, controlled by a near supermajority of Democrats, failed to approve the special measure.

I don’t have any problem with firearms. I own a shotgun for hunting and wouldn’t hesitate to use it for self-protection if the need should ever arise. I bought the shotgun at a gun show about 20 years ago and from what I recall, the transaction was a pretty simply one. And while I thought that was just fine at the time, I’m now afraid it’s simply too easy to obtain firearms in this country and especially in this state.

We’re lucky that so far, Vermont doesn’t suffer from gun violence as do some other areas of the country, but this may be lulling us into a false sense of security. Exhibit A is the recent, narrowly averted tragedy in Fair Haven, where if not for the courage of a young woman, we might have been facing the same level of loss that’s just occurred in Florida.

Nearly twenty years ago, not long after the Columbine school shooting, I was a young prosecutor in one of Vermont’s rural counties when I became involved in a matter wherein several high school students formulated a written plan to take over the school. Fortunately, that case turned out to be a false alarm, but the incident still had profound consequences for both the students and the greater community.

One interesting bit of political wisdom says that “only Nixon could go to China” meaning that only a politician with a reputation for upholding particular political values could perform an action in seeming defiance of them without jeopardizing his support or credibility. It may be that Governor Scott occupies similar ground with regard to gun regulation, and it’s encouraging that in the wake of the Fair Haven incident, he’s open to discussion.

But it seems clear that there needs to be more than just talk this time – that it’s finally time to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Ed Adrian is an attorney at the law firm Monaghan Safar Ducham PLLC. He previously served on the Burlington City Council for five years and currently sits on the Burlington Library Commission.
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