A Vermont lawmaker announced last week his plan to introduce legislation that would prohibit the carry, open or concealed, of semiautomatic firearms in certain locations.
Sen. Phil Baruth (D/P-Chittenden) said that his bill, if passed, would ban gun owners from carrying in parks, stores, restaurants, airports, places of worship, auditoriums, theaters, childcare facilities and in public during political demonstrations.
“Everybody’s sort of conditioned to accept the fact that in public, people are going to carry weapons that are designed to kill large numbers of human beings,” Baruth said, according to Valley News.
Gun owners would still be allowed to carry autoloading pistols and other semi-auto firearms in downtown areas and on public streets. And, they would also be permitted to carry single-shot and single-action firearms in those areas that prohibit semi-autos.
“I don’t think we’ve reached a consensus on banning assault weapons,” Baruth added. “But I do think we’ve reached a consensus that we don’t want them in the public square.”
Baruth apparently believes that all semiautomatic firearms are “assault weapons.” And, it appears he is not the only lawmaker in the Legislature to hold this position.
“It’s hard to argue why you need to carry an assault weapon at a football game,” said Sen. Dick Sears (D-Bennington).
Likewise, Sen. President Pro Tem Tim Ashe (D/P Chittenden), said, “I think generally speaking, people would acknowledge that the places you just described are not ones that probably are appropriate for people to bring assault weapons to.”
Opponents of the bill argue that it’s simply a way to chill the 2A rights of law-abiding citizens.
Sen. John Rodgers (D-Essex-Orleans) called it a “non-starter.”
“They want to stop people from being able to carry guns for self protection and I can’t vote for that,” Rodgers explained.
“Taking rights away from law abiding citizens is not going to help,” he continued. “Criminals are going to carry them because they don’t care about the law.”
Alan Gottlieb, the founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, agreed that the bill was deeply misguided.
“Vermont needs to ban politicians who assault our Second Amendment Rights; not commonly owned firearms used by millions of people for self-defense,” he said in a statement to GunsAmerica.
“The gun prohibition and confiscation forces will not be happy until every firearm is defined as an ‘assault weapon’ and is banned,” he added.
Republican Gov. Phil Scott has not indicated whether he will or will not support the bill, saying it was too early to make a call one way or the other.
But a spokesperson for the governor told the Valley News, “I’d reiterate that the Governor has also said he believes we need to focus on ensuring the sweeping gun safety reforms we passed last year are working well and as intended, and on addressing the root causes of violence and suicide.”
Gov. Scott signed gun-control into law, in 2018, that banned private transfers, raised the purchase age for firearms to 21, outlawed bump stocks, placed restrictions on magazine capacity (10-plus rounds for long guns, 15-plus rounds for handguns) and instituted “red-flag” confiscation orders.