Bang bang, I shot you down

Sue Minter has taken a step toward sharpening her political profile, in an interesting and timely way. From the Vermont Press Bureau:

Minter, one of two Democratic candidates for governor, has come out strongly in favor of requiring universal background checks for all firearm sales in Vermont, regardless of the nature of the transaction.

Well. That should get her a heapin’ helpin’ of backlash from the gun-rights crowd. And if Minter continues to push the issue, it will be a test of what the pollsters say: that there is broad support for universal background checks, but a very loud minority keeping the issue off the table.

For his part, fellow Dem Matt Dunne was notably more circumspect, saying only that he would be “open to discussing any strategy that would reduce gun violence.” Which kinda means exactly nothing.

The two Republican candidates, as you might expect, are against any changes to state law. Bruce Lisman asserts that state law isn’t broken and “doesn’t need to be fixed.” For his part, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott seemed a little unclear on the concept of of “universal background checks.”

“We already have universal background checks. I’ve been through them myself.”

Er, sorry, Phil, we don’t. (He seems to be having trouble with this policy stuff.) But pray continue.

As a Vermont boy myself, trading one off with my neighbor or a family member is a right I think we should have,” Scott continued. “Vermont has one of the lowest crime rates in the country and I think we are searching for an answer for a problem that doesn’t exist.”


GunCakeWhile Vermont does have a low crime rate overall, we fare poorly in one particular area. And it’s a big one:

This month, the Violence Policy Center released the newest iteration of its continuing study tracking the number of women murdered in the United States by men. As it turns out, Vermont has the eighth-highest rate of any state, with 1.58 victims killed per 100,000 people.

And most of those women were killed by men they knew, not strangers.

According to the state-issued Domestic Violence Fatality Commission Review Report, half of the 237 adult homicides committed in Vermont between the years 1994 and 2013 were related to domestic violence. Fifty-six percent of adult domestic violence homicides during that time were committed with firearms. And although gun-related domestic violence isn’t always fatal, assaults committed with guns are twelve times more likely to kill their victims than those involving other weapons or bodily force.

Phil Scott and Bruce Lisman have a blind spot when it comes to domestic violence, which is not uncommon in men. But they need to be enlightened. Vermont is generally blessed with low crime rates, but we have a specific problem with domestic abuse that escalates to murder or serious harm, usually because of the presence of guns.

Just ask Wynona Ward, the Orange County trucker-turned-lawyer who founded “Have Justice Will Travel,” an organization that seeks to end domestic violence and help its victims. She says that women in rural Vermont are often isolated by geography, they are dependent on their abusers, and face serious obstacles in escaping their situations. Many of those abusers own guns, and aren’t afraid to use them.

When I was in law school, I sat in Orange County [court] and read almost 200 affidavits where [people] – mostly women – were asking for relief from abuse hearings and sometimes they wouldn’t come back to finalize them. And when they did come back, the batterer had the purse strings [to] hire an attorney and the victim couldn’t. So she would be there to litigate for her safety and her children’s safety against an experienced attorney in a courtroom. You’re sitting three feet from the guy that may have kicked you, or hit you, or threatened your life, or held a gun to your head…

There are serious shortcomings with Vermont’s gun laws in cases of domestic violence. Earlier this year, the state enacted a new law barring a person who has been convicted of a violent crime from possessing a firearm. That’s a step in the right direction, but more is needed. The law should also require the surrender of firearms from the scene of a domestic violence incident or from the possession of a person subject to a protective order.

And Minter’s proposal for universal background checks would also save lives. According to one study of nationwide crime statistics, between 2008 and 2012 “there were 46 percent fewer intimate partner gun homicides of women in states that require background checks for all handgun sales than in states that do not.”

All of this is my full response to a Tweet sent on Thursday by political consultant Jason Gibbs, who’s working on the Phil Scott campaign. This Tweet was part of a thread between Gibbs and the Vermont Press Bureau’s Neal Goswami:

There’s your answer, Jason. If we required universal background checks, fewer women would be killed or wounded by gun-wielding domestic partners.

52 thoughts on “Bang bang, I shot you down

  1. PVP

    Please, this false narrative of “Vermonts gun violence problem” is really starting to get old. I was on the fence regarding UBC’s, but now I see the propaganda machine is just trying to hard. Every link provided by (and including) this “article” is nothing more than a disgraceful attempt to slander the good people of Vermont. “northeastern hub of gun trafficking.”!?!? HAHA!! Just who are you trying to convince? Shameful excuse for journalism.

  2. g2-4defad001ff5faec21d31d0bd81192f6

    And your “universal background checks” (read: crypto gun registration scheme) just did so much to stop what happened in Oregon and San Bernardino, right?
    You won’t get them here.
    Whether you pass a law or not, you won’t get them, because it will be defied, and there is nothing you, Sue Minter, or anyone else will do about it.
    And please don’t scoff the “so much for law abiding gun owners” at me. It isn’t our fault if such as you seek to make criminals of us.
    The result would be the largest civil disobedience action in Vermont history. We ere prepared for this last time, and we remin prepared.

    On Dec 4, 2015, at 5:28 AM, kestrel9000 wrote:
    I am in receipt of your latest email advocating gun control.
    I do not agree with this and will support your opponent should you win the primary.
    Please remove me from any future mailings.
    Vermont Constitution Article 16. [Right to bear arms; standing armies; military power subordinate to civil]
    That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State–and as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.


    From: Sue Minter
    Date: Fri, Dec 4, 2015 at 7:35 AM
    Subject: Re: Gun control mailing
    To: kestrel9000
    Thank you for your reply and we will remove you from our list.
    I regret that you feel that efforts to keep guns out of the wrong hands by extending the existing background checks at gun stores to all sales is contrary to 2nd Amendment. Sincerely,
    Sent from my iPad


    Notice something about that? I brought up Article 16 of the Vermont Constitution, and she responded with the Second Amendment. You will see a lot of that this season. Democrat politicians are being told to avoid Article 16. It’s a little too unambiguous for them to dance around.

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      No, universal background checks wouldn’t have stopped San Bernardino, but they would stop SOME violence and prevent the killing of SOME innocent people without significantly interfering with gun owners’ rights. Not that you’re listening to me.

      1. g2-4defad001ff5faec21d31d0bd81192f6

        Why should I? That record’s so cueburned it’s barely audible, and the song is old and tired.
        A lot of things would stop SOME violence. Like banning cars, or baseball bats.
        Gun control is statist class warfare, and its arguments are strawmen.
        Gun control is evil, and its proponents are exactly that at worst, or hopelessly and dangerously deluded at best.
        Self defense is a human right.

      2. Walter Carpenter

        “stop SOME violence and prevent the killing of SOME innocent people without significantly interfering with gun owners’ rights. Not that you’re listening to me.” I wonder if a UBC would have stopped the alleged killer of Lara Sobel and three other women this summer. Imagine, if it had not been so easy for the this woman to get her hands on a weapon. I knew Lara, though not well, and also had seen her alleged shooter at a place where I work and think about the odds that it, or any other incident like it involving guns, could have been there. Here, also, is a list of other events involving guns in Vermont which happened in August, the month when Lara was killed. While we say that Vermont does not need UBC’s and all, always remember that the next mass murder could easily happen here. Having been shot at in a random drive-by, I know how quick these things can happen and that by the time you can react, whether you have a gun or not, it is too late.

        August 2015 Gun-Related Incidents

        A selection of publicly reported, gun-related incidents in VT.

        8/2/2015 A Sheldon Springs father with no criminal record faces up to 12 years in prison after he allegedly threatened to kill two motorists who aggravated him on the road and followed him to his place of business.

        8/7/2015 Woman shoots DCF worker and three family members in Barre and Berlin.

        8/13/2015 Armed standoff between police and man later identified as ex-boyfriend of the killer of four people in Barre and Berlin.

        8/19/2015 More than 100 firearms, about a half dozen kinds of drugs, a non-operational clandestine methamphetamine lab and nearly $25,000 were among items seized during a raid on the home and business of an Alburgh selectman last month, records show.

        8/22/2015 St. Albans man entered his residence with a handgun and pointed it at his girlfriend and two other acquaintances. Victim’s 5 month old daughter was also in the apartment during the incident.

        8/23/2015 Man fatally shoots another man in Greensboro.

        8/30/2015 Girl, 9, shot in stomach by dad cleaning gun.

  3. Jason

    She is clearly using percentages to make the data seem worse than it is. She fails to tell how universal background checks would have stopped vts huge domestic violence problem(answer:they won’t). This is one candidate that has lost my vote early.

  4. kristinsohlstrom

    Thank you, Sue Minter, for clearing the way for a Republican governor who respects ALL Vermonters and doesn’t assume we are incompetent because of gender or criminals because of what we may or may not legally own.

  5. Nunya Bizness

    I would truly like to know how a background check can catch a person with no previous history of criminal activity or mental illness. How would a background check have saved Nancy Lanza? Better yet, how about some concern for the men who are more often the victims of violent domestic abuse?…/cdc-study-more-men-than…/

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      Background checks won’t catch a person with a clean record. But they will catch people with criminal pasts, and that would reduce gun violence by a significant amount.

      As for men being “more often the victims of violent domestic abuse”? Laughable.

      1. Nunya Bizness

        How, pray tell, do you propose to actually stop a person who can easily pass a background check from actually selling that gun to a person willing to pay extra for it? It’s called a “straw purchase” and you anti-gun idiots never seem to understand that there is not a single damn thing that can be done about it. How about when a person breaks into my house (a crime) steals my gun (a crime) and then goes and kills somebody with it (another crime) Why punish me or other gun owners? If a bad guy is willing to break into my locked house, do you really think a law means anything to him? Why not advocate supremely strict sentences for people who use guns to commit crimes? That seems to me like something we could ALL support, together. Trying to control gun violence by taking away guns from innocent, decent, honest, law-abiding people, is about as stupid as trying to stop drunk driving by banning alcohol and cars. As for your quote that the CDC information is “laughable” I have nothing for you. I’d try to see things from your perspective, but I am unable to wedge my head up my own ass like you can.

      2. William Sprano

        Men are the victims nationally 40-45% of the time.
        Over the last two years I have seen more men killed by women in the news than women killed by men here in Vermont.

        Federal law already prohibits anyone Convicted of domestic abuse to surrender their guns. What you are proposing is to strip the guns of someone accused, this is a direct violation of due process. Your numbers on the effects of UBC are highly skewed, each state that implemented a UBC did see a decline in gun deaths, but an increase in beating deaths that exceeded the decrease. No Change In Behavior only method. We have to attack the Behavior not the method.

        Lastly guns purchased from private sale account for about .01% of all criminal activity. That is very little impact if any. Lets focus on the REAL problems, mental health, drugs, gangs, recidivism rates.

      3. Nunya Bizness

        THERE IS NO PROBLEM WITH GUN VIOLENCE IN VERMONT!!!! If you idiots have a problem with gun violence here, MOVE to Washington, DC or better yet, Chicago, where you can see how Barry’s organizational skills have changed those cities.

      4. John S. Walters Post author

        YES THERE IS. We have low rates of violent crime generally, but high rates of violence against women. But you’re not paying attention to me anyway, so whatever.

  6. Chade Bartsch

    There are NO shortcomings in VT gun laws! That one that was put on the books last session is whats called a Mirror law… Meaning that it is ALREADY federal law. I also find it laughable that you use Everytown for statistics who have been proven numerous times for false numbers. But what i find most insulting is your down right SEXIST comment “Phil Scott and Bruce Lisman have a blind spot when it comes to domestic violence, which is not uncommon in men.”

      1. g2-4defad001ff5faec21d31d0bd81192f6

        Only women, huh? As you know, I PERSONALLY know better, and firsthand.
        Then, there’s this…….

        Press Release/Vermont State Police/Domestic Assault/Incident#15C203835




        CASE#: 15C203835

        TROOPER: Adria Pickin

        STATION: New Haven

        CONTACT#: 802-388-4919

        DATE/TIME: December 10, 2015/1830 hours

        LOCATION: Middlebrook Road/Town of Ferrisburgh

        VIOLATION: Domestic Assault

        ACCUSED: Sonya Hamner

        AGE: 51

        CITY, STATE OF RESIDENCE: Ferrisburgh

        VICTIM: (The Vermont State Police does not release the names of victims of

        sexual assault or domestic violence.)

        AGE: 51

        CITY, STATE OF RESIDENCE: Ferrisburgh

        SUMMARY OF INCIDENT: On December 10, 2015, at approximately 1830 hours, State Police were advised of an assault complaint that occurred at a residence on Middlebrook Road in the Town of Ferrisburgh. The victim arrived to the New Haven Barracks to report that he had been assaulted by Sonya Hamner. After further investigation, Hamner was subsequently taken into custody. Due to lack of bail, Hamner was subsequently lodged at the Chittenden County Correctional Center.


        COURT DATE: 12/11/2015

        COURT: Addison County Criminal Court

        LODGED – LOCATION: Chittenden County Correctional Center

        BAIL: 1,000

        MUG SHOT: Y

        Trooper Adria C. Pickin

        Vermont State Police

        “C” Troop New Haven Barracks

        802-388-4919 P 802-453-7918 F

  7. PB

    Impressively bold by Sue Minter. I am a gun owner and I have no problem with universal background checks. A lot of misplaced passion on this one. It will be interesting to see how much Lisman will pull Scott to the right. Maybe he will even be forced to take a stand on an issue?

  8. Dave G.

    Scott is taking advice from Gibbs? Laughable. Didn’t that guy get trounced in his election? What a brain trust this is.

    Your point is well taken Mr. Walters.

  9. Jacob

    While I do understand why Americans would want the gun rights, it seems to be creating a society with alot of violence. I understand why people would want to be protected against government, but up to now its just people vs people. Bad idea.

  10. walter moses

    How about your diatribe on the VTGOP candidates. Now if you really want some dirt I have with good authority that:
    Bruce Lismon squeezes the Charmin. A lot!
    Phil Scott loves his race car more than his dog. Shocking!
    Matt Dunne needs to think more and pay less attention to blahgers.

    The day I can’t give grandpas old double barrel to my teenage son is the day prisons in VT will be overflowing with honest Vermonters who didn’t obey Minter’s nonsense laws. Are you reading this Senators Ayer, Baruth and Campbell?

    By the way John, they did one hell of a job vetting Malik, didn’t they? John you are really out there!.

  11. g2-4defad001ff5faec21d31d0bd81192f6

    I forgot to say, “Thank you for Cher-ing your views”…….as misguided and based upon cooked data as they may be…

  12. Bob DePino

    Sorry to hear you consider the response of the citizens of Vermont who legally defend their Constitutional Rights with free speech as “backlash”.
    While domestic violence is a serious and emotional issue, statistics and facts are by nature, impartial. Do NOT confuse discussion of facts with callousness, I am anything but callous.
    In your latest piece you use “facts” from the radically anti-gun sites The Violence Policy Center and The Trace (Bloomberg owned) to define your argument.
    In your article you quote rates and percentages from the “state-issued” Domestic Violence Fatality Commission Review Report (but it was written in part and testified to by Sarah Kenney, former director of The Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, which is NOT a state agency) that half of Vermont murders were domestic, and that 56% of domestic homicides were committed with a firearm. Those ARE documented fact, but THEN the Bloomberg propaganda strike with “twelve times more likely to kill their victims than those involving other weapons or bodily force”.
    If that were true, then that means by extrapolation, if we round both by 6%, to 50% each, there should be in fact 12 TIMES LESS deaths by other means, but in fact, there are MORE.
    The 2015 report shows 10 DV homicides, only 4 were by firearm. The TWELVE TIMES more likely meme doesn’t hold water.
    We researched domestic violence in Vermont during the 2013-14 session and offered testimony to our legislators in Montpelier.
    The link to some common anti-gun “talking points” can be found here:
    The original 2014 documents regarding Vermont domestic violence are in this listing, as well as a 2015 snapshot.
    Personally, I’m tired of the constant rhetoric from the anti-gunners that women are frail and need to be protected by LAWS when the latest gun control push is underway.
    Here is Public Service Announcement from the 2013 Burlington Charter Change vote that tells one woman’s story about defending HERSELF.
    [audio src="" /]
    I know there is no rational argument that will sway an anti-gun person in their belief.
    The facts, however, do need to be shown to the public.
    Over 500 articles, reports, details, and analysis can be found here:
    Fear of an inanimate object is irrational by nature.
    Media hype compounds misunderstanding and fear, it sells newspapers and increases blog hits.
    Advocating for the unconstitutional restriction of another person’s rights is irresponsible.
    Signing legislation that is in violation to the Constitution of Vermont is illegal.
    Vermont is the safest state in the nation. Again.
    I’m sorry, this bothers so many people.

    Bob DePino
    Vice President, Gun Owners of Vermont

      1. Eddie Cutler

        John We are more than happy to increase your readership as long as you allow us to post on your site. This just gives us another place to supply the general public with the true facts.
        You are doing us a great favor by doing so.
        We thank you for that.
        Ed Cutler
        Gun Owners of Vermont.

  13. Dave Katz

    Hey, Gun Hugging Meat Sacks,
    What in the six purple testicles of Jupiter are you all so scared of, you need to hug your guns closer than yer little babies? The Gummint? Hahahahaha! That ship sailed when your party suspended the First, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments since the Scalia Installation of 2000 and all the subsequent disasters after that.

    Besides, I thought all you kneejerk Second Amendment fainters just looooooved being the Brownshirt shock troops of the Reagan Reich, running all around in your camo tutus and spluttering about those jackbooted thugs and the dirty Lie-bruls abridging your freedoms, while daring the duly authorized, Constitution-designated authorities make you pay taxes and follow some rules–the tax-evading Browns in NH and all the a-holes who flowed like a river to their defense? Cliven Bundy and one of his sidedouches, that Jared whatshisname loser who iced a couple cops in Las Vegas with his loonbat wife a little later on? “Don’t Tread On Me”, the rag they threw over the cops’ bodies was emblazoned with, jesus christ– and maybe live in the same real world the rest of us do?

    …. Well, I for one am old enough to remember that, prior to Saint Ronnie I, there were NO survivalist whackadoos or paramilitary camo-clad fat f*cks running around the upper western US screeching about the Gummint being a fair target for their full auto weapons. And the NRA was all about hunter safety. No, nor no profeesional talkradio haters like Rush LimpBough inciting his listeners to hate and perchance to kill. We used to call that a crime, boys, when I was younger.

    See, if you dudes take up the gun, y’all have to own everything that goes with it. A firearm is not a hammer that gets incidentally used for mayhem, or a car with a drunk behind the wheel on the way home from the office party who plows into a crosswalk full of kids. A firearm has two purposes, and two purposes only: to inflict grievous bodily harm or death on a living being, and to coerce said living being to bow to the firearm wielder’s will. Nada else. The creed behind the firearm is death and control. Own it. Pull back the fellow-travellers in your midst who have thrown themselves headlong into the killing lust, if you can–I personally don’t think, for all your firepower, that you as a group are able to contain the killers who march under your flag anymore. I must ask: Do. You. Really. Want. To? Or are you just a bunch of violent anarchists who can’t control themselves, or who aren’t willing to behave as citizens sharing a commonwealth and a comity with us more peaceful people, short of being the bug-squashed recipients of a totalitarian full-on military intervention?

    You’re swerving way over the yellow line into terrorism country. Cut the shit.

    1. Brian Heybyrne

      Hey “Dave Katz” .. If your dim intellect allows you to honestly believe that ” A firearm has two purposes, and two purposes only: to inflict grievous bodily harm or death on a living being, and to coerce said living being to bow to the firearm wielder’s will. Nada else.” … Please, don’t ever touch one. Now, go take your meds.

  14. ApacheTrout


    Today’s Baltimore Post has a story about the arrest of a Kirk Green on “two counts of illegal possession of a firearm, illegal possession of ammunition and two counts of possession of a firearm by a person with a mental disorder.” Green was first noticed by a shopper, who overheard him talking to himself. The shopper then contacted police, who upon investigation, learned that Green was a convicted felon prohibited by law from owning a gun or ammunition.

    My main reason in highlighting this story is primarily in response to those who say we shouldn’t have gun laws because they don’t work to prevent a criminal from obtaining a firearm. Indeed, the law did not stop Green. But without the law, Green, who was said by a housemate to have mental health issues, might have been released by the police. My point is the obvious: without these laws in place, a crime isn’t committed, and the man would not have been in custody. And a potential tragedy would not have been averted.

  15. Rich larouche

    Garbage hit piece using zero facts. If your going to write things use facts. I’m a strong believer that you should legally be held responsible for false articles and spreading lies. I think a yr in jail might rethink posting lies especially when the facts are known


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