Ballot Items 6, 7 and 8 are about gun control and are probably the most controversial ballot items on the ballot. My guess is that like most things that city government tries to do this is just a step towards a complete gun ban in Burlington, which I’m sure some of the supporters of these 3 ballot items desire.
Ballot Item 6 – Proposed charter change RE: Police confiscation/seizure of weapons during domestic abuse incident?
At first glance, this may seem like a good policy. However, it’s fairly vague. What qualifies as a weapon specifically for starters and how do you determine for sure who’s weapons are who’s? Don’t you run the risk of seizing a weapon that the potential victim may need to defend themselves against the attacker? What specifically qualifies as a domestic abuse incident? We are not even specifically proposing to take weapons away from a convicted abuser, but just a suspected one, what qualifies as a suspected abuser?
The current laws provide sufficient tools for police to deal with domestic abuse. If a citizen does harm to someone with ANY weapon, whether its a gun, bat, knife, or fist, they deserve to face consequences and the victim should be taken care of whether its special protection and/or compensation.
However, this charter change seems to be unnecessary and could actually put potential victims at greater risk as a weapon may be the only defense someone may have against an abuser.
Ballot Item 7 – Proposed charter change RE: Ban on firearms in any establishment with a liquor license?
This one is an easy one to vote no against for me. Many bars, such as Manhattan Pizza, like the idea of not allowing firearms in their bars, so why can’t they just do it. A bar owner can set the rules as they see fit for patrons… why ask the government to do their own dirty work. I imagine many don’t want to come off as the “bad guy” and anger existing/potential customers.
This charter change also would encompass a lot of properties in downtown Burlington as it means a ban of guns in all restaurants, bars, and many hotels. Again, I imagine this is only another step towards extending the ban to more areas to eventually cover the entire public area, just like what’s happening with smoking bans.
The funny thing about criminals and abusers is they usually don’t follow the laws, so charter changes like this will not stop them from holding weapons, but will certainly make them feel more confident when committing crimes that their victims will be disarmed.
Ballot Item 8 – Proposed charter change RE: Safe storage of firearms?
Another really easy one to vote no on. This one would require firearms not in our immediate possession to be locked up. What sense does it make to keep a gun locked up if want to have it available during an emergency.
My wife and I called for police help a few years ago and the response time was far too slow, over 2 hours I believe even though we are about 2 miles away from the nearest police department. If one feels comfortable depending on them or something else for protection so be it. However, if other citizens want to be able to defend themselves their own way who are we to stop them from protecting themselves as they want in their own home?
Constitutionality of the Charter Changes?
Even if all three pass by Burlington voters it may not matter since they would need state approval and it’s been argued that all three are unconstitutional. Other towns have tried passing gun control bans, just to be turned down by Montpelier. However, it’s possible that these might have a better chance as they are not as strict.
Also, lets be honest here. Most of Burlington is quite peaceful. We have very little gun violence that I can think of. Is gun policy really something we need to be worried about? Don’t we have much bigger issues to worry about in Burlington? Perhaps its a distraction from the real issues. The last gun violence incident I know of in Burlington is when the Burlington Police gunned down a resident in our area who was armed with a shovel.