Gun Rights March in St. Johnsbury

gun rightsST. JOHNSBURY— Earlier this month Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed 3 bills into law increasing restrictions on gun sales and ownership. Two of the changes prevent people with a a history of violence and those arrested on domestic violence charges from possessing guns.


The final change expands background checks, limits magazine clips, bans bump stocks, and requires anyone under 21 years of age to take a hunter safety course before they can purchase a gun.

The changes were in response to the mass shootings in Florida, Las Vegas, and Newtown. And while everyone may not agree with the changes, protesters took to the streets of St. Johnsbury on Saturday.

"When Governor Phil Scott signed S.55, I took that as a slap in the face to Article 16 of the Vermont Constitution," said Eddie Garcia of the Vermont Citizen Defense League.

"The Vermont Constitution is laying out our rights to bear arms and to defend ourselves as need be," said John Dodge the co-organizer of the march.

"I want to be very clear. I believe these measures will make a difference. And I firmly believe each and every one of them is consistent with both the United States and Vermont Constitutions," said Vermont Governor Phil Scott.

"That's why we are here," said Morgana Segovia, a St. Johnsbury Gun Rights Advocate. "It's not just for guns, it has to nothing to do with guns. I mean it does have have to do with guns, but the main premise is to keep our rights intact."

The Centers for Disease Control says Vermont had 78 firearm related deaths in 2016. This was up 11.4% from 2015.

"We have 18, 19, and 20 year olds that now have some restrictions that they have to do in order to even purchase a gun," said Dodge. "18, 19 and 20 year olds did nothing wrong in this state. We raise our kids responsibly. We raise our kids to understand and respect firearms, and they do."

"I refuse to get punished for the actions of an insane man," said Julian Garcia, a St. Johnsbury gun rights advocate.

Those on the other side of the issue were out on Friday across the nation arguing safety requires some restrictions.

"We're taking action, we're taking the streets," said Arielle Geismar, a 16 year old Co-Founder of NYC Says Enough. "Most of us can't even vote yet, but we are working extremely hard to make sure that no one has to suffer the way that people have."

"I think there is very little common ground we can reach," said Eddie Garcia.

A recent Vermont School Safety Assessment shows that 96% of Vermont Schools take part in emergency preparedness activities practicing what to do in the event of an "active shooter" and other emergencies.

The study also found that the areas in planning, training, and technology and equipment need the most improvement.

The state of Vermont will be getting $1 million in Homeland Security grants, and Governor Scott has secured $5 million dollars in grants from the legislature.

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