• Making gun ownership safer
    April 03,2014

    Making gun ownership safer

    Vermont has a long history of safe and appropriate gun use, as evidenced by generations of local hunters and sportsmen. In recent years, however, tragic misuse of firearms in our state is all too common.

    The facts:

    Vermont has the highest rate of gun deaths in New England — twice that of Massachusetts.

    States with safer gun storage laws have reduced accidental shootings of children by as much as 23 percent and have reduced suicides of adolescents by 8 percent.

    Vermont’s growing guns-for-drugs trade is being fueled by extreme accessibility of guns in our state. A 2009 study found that Vermont exports more guns per capita than any other state in the Northeast and ranks 16th nationally.

    Currently, Vermont has just one of 10 laws proven by other states to be effective in reducing gun trafficking.

    Over the past 10 years, 50 percent of Vermont’s homicides have been domestic violence related. In states that require a background check for private sales of handguns, 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners, compared with states like ours.

    For more statistics, please visit GunSenseVT.org.

    The evidence points to an urgent need for revision in Vermont’s gun laws. With a few strategic changes, we can help secure our long tradition of safe and respectful gun use.

    It’s time for universal background checks; tougher gun trafficking laws; safer storage laws; better communication between state agencies and the NICS background check system; and for bringing state laws in line with the federal law to prohibit felons from possessing weapons.

    As a member of the Vermont chapter of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, I’m committed to life-affirming, peaceful resolution to local and global issues.

    Neville Berle


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