Vermont does have a gun problem
Gov. Shumlin has stated: “We make our children our number one priority in Vermont. But we can’t be satisfied; Vermont should lead the nation in ensuring that all children have the opportunity to live healthy, productive lives” (Valley News, June 25). However, his stance on reducing gun violence is in direct conflict with that statement. Indeed, Gov. Shumlin maintains that reducing gun violence is a “50-state issue” and opts to leave the work to the federal government. The governor also maintains that we do not have a “gun problem” in Vermont.
As a former resident of a town adjacent to Newtown, Conn., I can assure you that Newtown didn’t think it had a gun problem either. The fact is that we do have a problem — Vermont has the highest rate of gun deaths in New England, mostly by suicide; Vermont has the 12th highest suicide rate (majority are via guns) in the country and the highest in the Northeast; Vermont is 16th in the nation in exporting guns later found in crimes throughout the country and exports more guns per capita than any other New England state (data sources available at gunsensevt.org).
While nothing can be done to completely eliminate gun violence, the fact is that measures can indeed be taken here at home to make gun-related injuries and deaths less likely by making it more difficult for guns to fall into the wrong hands, whether they are the hands of criminals, young children, or someone contemplating suicide. To be clear: I am not talking about banning anything, but simply taking action to 1) ensure universal background checks for all gun purchases, 2) enhancing gun education and safe storage, and 3) enforcing laws and enacting strict punishment for those who traffic guns or do not handle them safely. For our children’s sake, I encourage our governor, legislators and residents to take action now and not wait for another large-scale tragedy to motivate us.
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