by Peter Freyne
Tuesday afternoon we sat down with Burlington's Progressive Mayor Bob Kiss to get it straight from the horse's mouth on the Mayors Against Illegal Guns "Statement of Principles" (posted in the Tuesday post below), that he signed without advance warning at Monday's Burlington City Council Meeting. Said Mayor Kiss:
"I’m making a statement along with other mayors across the country. It’s very clear to say our mayors are duty bound to do everything in our power to protect our residents, especially our children, from harm, and there is no greater threat to public safety than the threat of illegal guns.
"I will continue the discussion and include the city council in that process. It’s one of those things I can sign onto without looking for support or authority from the city council. Since it’s very clearly a statement of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, that’s why I chose that route. I think it is an issue that people on the city council are going to be interested in and I think we should continue that discussion."
But isn't the Second Amendment's right to bear arms a strong principle in Vermont?
Kiss: "I think everybody has to agree that we want responsible gun-ownership. I would say in the same way that I talk about responsible ownership in terms of rental property and responsible tenancy, I mean I think there are a lot of responsibilities in our society that we have to pay attention to, and how we do that make a difference in the outcome. My goal here is to work on responsible gun-ownership and to aim at preventing gun violence. And I don’t know that we all wouldn’t be in agreement with those kinds of goals."
But "gun control" in Vermont?
Kiss: "Again, should there be waiting periods before people can buy handguns? I don’t object to that. I think it’s a reasonable thing to do. That might be portrayed as gun control, but I think that has a lot more to do with responsible gun ownership. In the same way that in Vermont before you get a hunting license, you have to take a firearms class so you’re prepared to do that appropriately. Is that gun control? I think it’s probably responsible training so everyone’s safe in the practice of hunting. I might say, no, it’s gun control because if I don’t take the course, I can’t use my gun. But again, I think it misses the point. So I would say that Vermont and society can develop a reasonable set of rules that does a better job at protecting us at the same time it allows guns to be in the community."
Have you anticipated any kind of pro-gun backlash to this?
Kiss: "I have not. I think that having a discussion about guns, and even having a disagreement about guns, isn’t a backlash. I think we have to have that. And I think through that kind of discussion that you actually see change. And that’s what Mayors Against Illegal Guns are saying - we’ve got to do something about guns that come into our community illegally and have a negative consequence because people are dying on the street."
What do you think?
Incidentally, Burlington's mayor is not a gun owner.