Rally Will Promote Universal Background Checks on Gun Sales | Off Message

Rally Will Promote Universal Background Checks on Gun Sales

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DREAMSTIME
  • Dreamstime
A group of Vermont politicians is setting the stage to push anew for legislation that would mandate universal background checks on gun purchases.

They’re planning to rally August 4 on the steps of the Statehouse, said Senate Majority Leader Phil Baruth (D-Chittenden). He said that if he’s reelected this fall, he will introduce a bill next year to require universal background checks.

Democratic candidates for governor — Sue Minter, Matt Dunne and Peter Galbraith — have said they’ll attend, Baruth said. So have the three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor: Sen. David Zuckerman (P/D-Chittenden), Rep. Kesha Ram (D-Burlington) and House Speaker Shap Smith (D-Morristown), according to Baruth.

The rally is an indication that the debate over gun control — long considered off-limits in hunting-friendly Vermont — is shifting after a run of mass shootings across the country. Any legislation will likely face heavy opposition, however, and the issue is likely to come up in this year’s elections.

Sen. Phil Baruth - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Sen. Phil Baruth
Last year, gun control advocates dropped plans to seek universal background checks after running into opposition.

Three years ago, Baruth withdrew legislation to ban assault-style weapons amid intense opposition. Now, he said, he thinks the state is ready to require background checks on private gun sales.

“It’s time for this very modest step,” he said.

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