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After Orlando, Gubernatorial Candidates Weigh In On Gun Control In Vermont

Bob Kinzel
Democratic canidate for governor Peter Galbraith changed the focus of his press conference Monday in Montpelier to gun control in the wake of Sunday's deadly shooting in Orlando, Fla.

Following this weekend's horrific shooting in Orlando, Florida, the issue of gun control has emerged as a key concern for several of Vermont's gubernatorial candidates.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Galbraith had called reporters to a Montpelier press conference to discuss his plan to make higher education more affordable for thousands of Vermonters.

But he said the topic would have to be discussed another day because he wanted to speak about the need for Vermont to implement strong gun control measures in light of this weekend's tragedy where at least 50 people were killed at a popular gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Peter Galbraith (D)

Galbraith says the time has come for Vermont to have an open and honest discussion about the availability of guns.

"We really have not had a conversation in the state of Vermont about gun control," Galbraith said. "We pretend that we are somehow immune from the national trends when in fact we're not."

Galbraith proposed a Vermont law that would ban the sale of assault weapons like the one used in Orlando, it would implement a universal background check system that would include all private sales, and the plan would prohibit the sale of guns with large capacity magazines.

Galbraith says it's important to look at this case with the understanding that it's primarily a gun issue.

"This is an issue that's not about the Islamic State, it's not about the Taliban, it's about a single disturbed individual having a weapon that he should not have had," he said.

Sue Minter (D)

Democratic candidate Sue Minter called for stronger gun control measures several months ago. Central to Minter's approach is the implementation of a universal background check system.

Minter says people who think that Vermont doesn't have a gun violence problem are wrong.

"I'm tired of hearing that because I know that Vermont's problem is real and is often behind closed doors and it's domestic homicide, We had in 2013 the eighth highest rate of domestic homicide in the country and a majority of those were with guns," Minter said.

When the campaign began, Minter didn't support a ban on assault weapons, but she does now.

"It is time to say that assault weapons that can create horrific tragedies on this scale do not have a place in our country," said Minter.

Matt Dunne (D)

Democratic candidate Matt Dunne was not available for comment but his campaign provided a written statement.

Dunne said he's "a pragmatist" and believes that the state must take action that will make a real difference, not just rhetorical impact."

Dunne says he supports a universal background system and he believes that effective gun control measures must come from Congress as part of a 50 state solution.

The statement is silent on the issue of banning the sale of assault weapons.

The two Republican candidates do not support any changes to Vermont's current gun laws.

Phil Scott (R)

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott says Vermonters are "shocked by the act of hate filled terror," but he doesn't support the approach taken by Galbraith and Minter.

"I think our current gun control laws in Vermont create an important balance between our rights to bear arms as American citizens and the public safety that we deserve."

And Scott doesn't believe that a ban on the sale of assault weapons will reduce future acts of violence.

"If it's not with a gun it will be with some other means to create a situation of mass destruction," said Scott.

Bruce Lisman (R)

Businessman Bruce Lisman was not available for comment.

In a written statement, Lisman said he thinks Vermont's current gun laws are good and don't need to be changed because "the state has one of the lowest violent crime rates per capita involving gun use."

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
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