Cavendish Town Meeting discusses non-binding “right to bear arms” resolution

CAVENDISH, Vt. – As far as town meetings go, the main business of passing the Cavendish town budget of $1,576,820, went smoothly Monday, March 2. All articles were passed. State Rep. Annemarie Christensen and Sen. Alison Clarkson provided a session progress report, and Cavendish Streetscapes and Cavendish Community & Conservation Association spoke about their respective programs, all within the first 65 minutes.

Cavendish Selectboard at the Town Meeting, March 2.
Cavendish Selectboard at the Town Meeting, March 2. Photo by Margo Caulfield

The second hour focused on a non-binding resolution, “A Resolution for the Defense of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.”

Stuart Lindberg provided a handout of the resolution, which read: “The township of Cavendish hereby declares itself to be a Second Amendment and Article 16, Constitutional Gun Owner township, as defined herein – The town hereby recognizes the inalienable rights of all persons within its boundaries to keep and bear arms as described both Article 16 of the Vermont Constitution and the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the Unites States of America, including but not limited to: the lawful use of firearms in defense of life, liberty and property and in defense of the State, from all enemies, foreign and domestic; the safe and responsible use of firearms for hunting and utilitarian purposes; and the safe and responsible use of firearms for sporting purposes including Olympic sports.

“Furthermore, per Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803), the township hereby declares all federal and state laws and regulations attempting to restrict these rights to be infringements, hence null and void under this resolution.”

Lindberg said that the reason for the resolution was to send a message to the Vermont Legislature that gun owner rights under the Constitution should be protected and not infringed upon.

As of March 2, according to the Gun Owners of Vermont website, there are currently 16 sanctuary towns in Vermont. Towns such as Clarendon had the resolutions adopted by their Selectboard. However, the Cavendish Selectboard felt that this should be up to the voters.

Several resident gun owners spoke how regardless of whether they purchased guns from a dealer or at a gun show, they all had to pass a National Instant Criminal Background Check. Further, they believed the rights of law abiding gun owners should not be penalized. As one speaker noted, “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”

Neil Snyder noted that places with high gun control still have considerable violence; they just use different weapons.

While several people thought that a resolution of any type wasn’t necessary, various people voiced their concern that some type of control was needed to stop gun violence. As Robin Timko noted, “I don’t know what can be done, but something needs to be done.”

It was suggested that if the town is serious about controlling violence that adopting the Cure Violence approach would go a long way in ending all types of violence. The Cure Violence model approaches violence in an entirely new way – as a contagious disease that can be stopped using the same health strategies employed to fight epidemics.

A primary concern of those opposed to the resolution was how it would make the town look and that it could attract the “wrong sort” of people to the town.

Ultimately, a paper ballot was requested, and 64 votes were cast. The result was 31 for the resolution and 33 against, and the resolution did not pass.

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