A response to Ron Patch’s letter “Our new gun laws”

Dear Editor,

The 24th of April was the 103rd anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey. Prior to that date, the Ottoman government had confiscated all the firearms in the hands of Armenians living in Turkey. They were able to do this because of previously existing firearms control laws, which required registration of all firearms.

The following comments are in regard to recent letters on firearms legislation. I can remember my dad telling my brother and me that

1. There is no such thing as an empty rifle (or any other kind of firearm),

2. Never point a rifle (or any other firearm) at anyone unless you intend to shoot him then and there – that is to say, never.

This was pretty stark advice, but very good. My father made sure that we were trained in the use of firearms as children. The NRA has expanded and refined this kind of instruction and advice in its firearms safety programs.

With regard to Mr. Patch’s letter, this is the key statement: “A year or two down the road when the legislators realize the new gun laws did nothing to make schools safe, they will pass more gun laws, which will mean a loss of more freedoms.”

In my opinion, this is the only real purpose for Act 94 that Gov. Scott signed into law the other day – specifically banning standard capacity magazines and requiring universal background checks for the purchase or transfer of firearms. Understand, I am not saying that Mr. Patch’s statement reflected either the governor’s or the Legislature’s intention, but it will surely be the law’s ultimate effect.

This is how the Romans finally defeated Hannibal – a little at a time. Neither the new law nor any other laws will prevent evil people from doing evil things and – in my view – that is the intended effect, as Mr. Patch observes. The ultimate purpose is to disarm the American people.

I believe that every Vermont voter with the slightest tinge of patriotism should remember who was involved in passing this law and vote accordingly this year. I certainly understand the concern about doing something and the fear of having to explain a vote to the parents of a child murdered in school. I must say, however, that it is difficult to understand why legislators would be concerned about “young people that are saying that we are not doing enough” when you have just defined them as immature, unreliable, impulsive, and untrustworthy in the law that forbids anyone under 21 to buy a firearm.

It seems to me, however, especially since it is believed that the ban on standard capacity magazines and the universal – as opposed to commercial – background checks will be contested at law, that the attitude of the legislators should have been: “I will not vote for this bill in its current form. The magazine ban is irrelevant to the question of school safety and I will consider voting for it when it is presented without the magazine ban.”

Conversely, the governor could have vetoed the bill with a similar message. I find it strange that someone would vote for a law with the idea that two of its parts will/may be overturned by the courts. My own observation regarding magazines is that the law should have made the use of a firearm with any size magazine in the commission of a crime an additional felony, without regard to the seriousness of the original crime.

If there are not serious electoral consequences for those responsible for the offensive aspects of this law, the Legislature will continue to pass other laws involving firearms, even worse than this one. There are some things that are not to be tampered with.

Background checks for purchasing firearms from a firearms dealer or other business or via a gun show are beneficial. But requiring, as the law does, universal background checks is a big problem, if for other reason than that it opens the door to Soviet style attempts to entrap people by attempting to buy or otherwise obtain firearms from them. The State of Vermont and, I assume, other states as well, send young people into businesses that sell alcohol, trying to get the clerk to sell these products to a minor so that law enforcement can take action against the store. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that this will become policy for firearms as well. Not being able to trust the people with whom you interact tends to break down a society.

One more thought on universal background checks. Consider the question of narcotics. People buy narcotics all the time that are illegal to sell, possess, or use. Despite the best efforts of the police and attempts at education, abuse of narcotics continues unabated. People who are not inclined to obey the law won’t be affected or limited by the law in any way. The same principle applies to universal (as opposed to commercial) background checks. Furthermore, background checks of any kind are useless unless the databases they rely on are complete, accurate, and purged when the reason for being in the database no longer exists. The only reason the boy in Florida was able to buy firearms is that school policy forbade reporting disorderly or even criminal behavior to the police and thus, his name was not entered into any of the databases that a background check consults.

The real causes and any hope for a solution to the problems of people committing mass murder are not those that a legislature, governor, or a judge can address. Murder is already against the law, after all. The destruction of religious belief and practice and the loss of faith, both in religion and in America itself are the underlying causes of this problem; they are beyond the competence of politicians and jurists. Leadership in these areas by example and exhortation will accomplish much more than laws that affect only those who are law-abiding.

My two cents.


G.M. Donabedian

Chester, Vt.

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