Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger reaffirmed on Monday his support for banning assault weapons in the Queen City, and urged city councilors to take additional steps aimed at preventing gun violence.
"You are on strong legal ground to move forward with an assault weapons resolution of some sort, and I support that,” Weinberger told the three members of the council’s charter change committee. He noted that similar initiatives by other municipalities have survived court challenges.
But any attempt by Burlington to regulate possession of firearms would require a change in the city’s charter thus could not take effect unless approved by the state legislature. City Councilor Rachel Siegel, the Ward 3 Progressive who chairs the charter-change committee, said it’s unlikely the legislature would even consider such an initiative until 2015, assuming it was first endorsed by the council and approved by Burlington voters in March 2014.
“More immediately,” Weinberger told the committee, Burlington might be able to adopt another measure relating to access to firearms.
He noted that in the aftermath of the Newtown, Connecticut, mass murder of schoolchildren and educators, 24 communities around the country “have passed resolutions to encourage action to fix the federal background-check system.” This screening process for prospective gun buyers is “badly broken,” the mayor said. He added that Vermont is one of 19 states rated as having done the least to submit data to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Weinberger then handed out to committee members a model resolution that urges action to strengthen federal background checks.
“Burlington does have a stake in this, and I’m very much in favor of it,” the mayor said.
Polls show that 90 percent of Americans support stricter background checks, Weinberger noted. “Many gun owners think background checks are completely consistent with the Second Amendment,” he added.
Committee members welcomed Weinberger’s suggestion, with Siegel (pictured) calling the model resolution “really helpful.”
Siegel said Schirling had suggested efforts to prohibit possession of weapons in Burlington bars and had also posed the possibility of empowering Queen City police to seize weapons in situations involving domestic violence. She pointed out that six of 10 deaths by shooting in Vermont during the past couple of years have occurred in cases of domestic violence. Another 90 Vermonters took their own lives with guns during that same period, Siegel observed.