Vigil for gun safety legislation on June 15

BRATTLEBORO — June 14 will mark the sixth-month anniversary of the Newtown, Conn. massacre. Since that tragic day, it is estimated that more than 84 children in the United States have been killed by guns, according to Slate and @GunDeaths.

Teens add 219 more to this tally and, if we look at all gun deaths for all ages in the United States since Newtown, the estimated number is an astonishing 4,332. If these were deaths due to eastern equine encephalitis, west Nile virus, or a new strain of the flu, politicians would demand immediate action.

But here in Vermont, Governor Peter Shumlin has publicly stated that he does not favor any changes in gun legislation at the state level. He has called for a “50-state solution” and has dismissed efforts at the state level as little more than “feel-good legislation.”

He has said this despite the fact that we have the highest rate of gun deaths in New England (according to the Centers for Disease Control), the 12th-highest suicide rate in the country (according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention), and the distinction of being the only state in the nation that doesn't prohibit felons from possessing firearms.

When no gun legislation made it out of committee this session in Montpelier, a coalition group in support of sensible gun laws formed. GunSenseVermont is made up of gun owners and non-gun owners, doctors and teachers, hunters and veterans, civic leaders and religious leaders. We come from more than 100 different Vermont towns, and we represent groups such as the Vermont Public Health Association, Child Safe Vermont, and the Vermont chapter of Moms Demand Action.

Our goal is to promote gun safety laws that protect our children and communities and also respect Second Amendment rights and Vermont's constitution. We feel that it is the Vermont way to “have the conversation” about difficult and controversial matters and take appropriate action instead of simply doing nothing.

On Saturday, June 15, from 7 to 8 p.m., GunSenseVT is organizing a respectful, family-friendly vigil on the Brattleboro Common to commemorate the lives of the children lost at Newton and in the six months since.

The theme of this vigil is “We Have Not Forgotten.” We will toll a bell once for each victim, sing songs of hope, and renew our call for action. All are welcome.

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